An interesting and very telling uproar has developed recently in the online steelpan community surrounding some very unbecoming remarks made by Kristian Paradis (Director of the University of Delaware Steelband) in response to Freddy Harris III tagging him in a post.
Mr. Paradis was promptly rebuked by many in the online steelpan community and was forced to issue a public apology. Although Mr. Paradis may have apologized in order to save face, it does not appear likely that his steelpan checks will start bouncing anytime soon (unlike the many Trinidad Panorama 2016 performers) since the University of Delaware employs him and signs his checks. In all probability, Mr. Paradis will continue to cash in on the steelpan instrument and remain in his current position as a faculty member of the University of Delaware, despite this public relations disaster. In the remote possibility that Mr. Paradis is reprimanded by higher ups and removed from his position on the grounds of cultural insenstivity towards a historically victimized indigenous culture (a culture in which he presents himself as an academic authority), as well as public behavior and language unbecoming of a University of Delaware faculty member (which serves to reflect poorly upon the institution), there is a strong likelihood that Mr. Paradis would merely be replaced with another steelpan pirate who looks just like him.
Academia Represents One of the Fastest Growing Pan Hustles Among Neo-Colonizers of the Steelpan Instrument
Kristian Paradis is merely one pirate in a sea of steelpan pirates who have flocked to academia to plunder their personal shares of the steelpan pie. Yet in the midst of this scandal surrounding Mr. Paradis displaying his true colors, Freddy Harris III of all people was accused of ''hustling pan'', as if to imply that his means of monetizing the steelpan in order to make a honest, independent living amount to hustling.
Earlier today, Freddy Harris III published a commentary on this entire matter and stated in part,
''And yes......I HUSTLE!!!!! BUT I AM NOT HUSTLING PAN!!!!!! Thanks for this statement David Edwards!!! You're RIGHT when you say---------------"I also don't like people calling you a hustler. You are dedicated, industrious, a hard worker and committed. Tell dem watch dey mouth..."
When we first wrote about Freddy Harris III a couple of months back in a bombshell article entitled, ''The Cheese Factor of Using Backing Tracks as a Solo Performing Pannist Ultimately Depends on the Individual'', we presented him as the virtuosic, authentic pannist that he is, in stark contrast to some true pan hustlers (the most notable of which is Bob Lyons), who have consistently promoted and perpetuated the minstrel show legacy as it relates to the European cultural misappropriation of the steelpan instrument.
Yet, in the Brave New World of the steelpan, Freddy Harris III is subject to being maligned as a ''pan hustler'' while the real pan hustlers who collectively hustle millions of dollars sit in their ivory towers and bask in their white privilege, on stolen, colonized land while reaping from the steelpan what they never sowed and most likely never will sow.
Academia is a well known ivory tower metaphor as it's ranks are often swollen with scholars who get paid to think´instead of perform. As far as academia as it relates to the steelpan is concerned, upon careful inspection, one cannot help but notice that the overwhelming majority of American academic steelpan faculty members are of European descent. One quickly realizes that concerning the steelpan in academia, an ivory tower is manifest in every sense of the word.
Out of 17 University sponsored steelband programs that we could find through simple research, only two are directed by negro faculty members. Bearing in mind that the USA represents one of the largest, if not the largest international market for the steelpan, it is fairly obvious that there is a conspiracy to perpetuate a Pan scam in the world of American academia. This high level Pan scam geared towards higher learning serves to literally white wash the face of steelpan in academia.
As we go through the following list of 15 University sponsored steelpan programs with European descended directors at their helms, one can only ponder how many more of these ivory tower dwelling steelpan ''academics'' share the sentiments of Kristian Paradis.
1. University of Delaware - Kristian Paradis
2. Pan Devils (Arizona State University) - J.B. Smith
3. PANtagonists (University of Houston) - Dr. Blake M. Wilkins
4. Steely Pan (Appalachian State University) - Byron Hedgepeth
Apparently Byron Hedgepeth is a Steely Dan fan in light of the lame play on words used in the name of his band.
5. NYU Steel (New York University) - Josh Quillen
6. Wesleyan University - Ronald J. Kuivila
7. UW Steelband (University of Washington) - Dr. Shannon Dudley
8. Miami University Steelband - Chris Tanner
9. University of Akron Steelband - Dr. Larry Snider
10. Vanderbilt ''Steel Bands'' - Mat Britain
11. Eastern Kentucky University Steelband - Dr. Jason Koontz
12. Northern Kentucky University - Stan Ginn
13. Ohio Northern University ''Steel Drum Band'' - Dr. Sarah Waters
The sad fact that so called steelpan academics who hold doctorate degrees yet still use the ''steel drum band'' misnomer when naming their bands is not lost on us by any means.
14. PanAmerican Steel Band (University of Iowa) - Dan Moore
15. WIU Steelband (Western Illinois University) - Dr. Rick Kurasz
Exceptions to the Pattern of Apartheid Governments in Steelpan Academia
In light of the previously listed 15 University sponsored steelband programs and their faculties which consist of all white directors, it is clear that where steelpan academia in the USA is concerned, European descendants represent the vast majority of those that sit in well paid, secure positions of power, authority, and influence.
However, the two exceptions to the Apartheid oriented Steelpan Club of American academia are as follows:
1. NIU Steelband (Northern Illinois University) - Liam Teague and Clifford Alexis
The NIU official website states that the NIU steelband ''was the first active steelband formed in an American university and has performed throughout the United States and around the world. NIU is one of the few institutions in the world at which students may pursue music degrees (undergraduate and graduate) with the steelpan as the major instrument of choice.''
2. University of Georgia Steelband - Timothy K. Adams
The Time is at Hand Where an Authentic Product of Caribbean Steelpan Culture Like Freddy Harris III Cannot Make A Living From His Own Culture Without Being Smeared With a ''Pan Hustler'' Label
What does it say when a solid, young, prodigious pannist like Freddy Harris III cannot make an honest buck from the steelpan without getting pimping allegations thrown at him? Up until recently, we knew very little of the background of Freddy Harris III, but upon doing a little digging, we are without a doubt certain that Freddy Harris III represents the steelpan truth. The world of Pan is very small and we received more confirmation of this fact when we stumbled upon the following bit of information on Freddy Harris III:
This author missed Freddy by just 2 years in the band, but as a Rising Star myself, I can attest that Freddy Harris III represents everything that Caribbean steelpan culture is all about and is a living personification of steelpan truth. For more first hand, background information on the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra's consistent, decades-long track record of producing Caribbean steelpan winners like Freddy Harris III, please read our recent article entitled, ''The Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra: An Ideal Example of What the Caribbean Steelband Represents''. Here one can gain much insight into the the rigid structure and disciplined steelpan environment that Freddy Harris III was exposed to at an early age.
Obviously Freddy Harris III is merely applying these valuable skills appropriately in a way that is original and authentic, and let us not forget that this young brother graduated as his high school class valedictorian and went on to receive a B.A. in music studies cum laude, at a time when more young negro males go to prison than to college. One can only really grasp the gravity of this fact that has historically loomed over the negro community when he/she attends an HBCU (Historically Black University), and quickly realizes that women outnumber men significantly on every co-ed campus.
Freddy Harris III won a long time ago when he overcame steep odds and graduated with honors from Florida Memorial University. Performance wise, not a single one of the ivory tower dwelling academics listed earlier can hold a candle to Freddy Harris III, especially the likes of Kristian Paradis. We live in a backward world where steelpan Apartheid among academics is not only acceptable, but the order of the day. Only under the current world order based upon white supremacy and Apartheid can this sad state of steelpan affairs exist as the academic government of Pan is merely a reflection of the present global situation.
Author: Rudy Kendall