WeBeat to honour Pelham Goddard
Posted: Friday, May 13, 2005
Organisers of the annual WeBeat St James Festival have decided to honour master musician and homeboy, Pelham Goddard, for his contribution to local culture and the mosaic that is the City That Never Sleeps.
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Born on Clarence Street, St James on December 12, 1946 and from soon thereafter known to all in the village as "PG", Goddard started his schooling at St Crispin's EC in Woodbrook and ended studies with a music programme offered at Berklee College of Music, in Massachusetts.
He is perhaps best known as musical director/arranger of the phenomenal soca band, Charlie's Roots, which produced some of the finest musicians in the genre and introduced us to the extraordinary vocals of Christopher "Tambu" Herbert and David Michael Rudder but PG is much more.
Goddard launched his professional career in 1967, as organist for the Peter De Vlugt (Dutchy Brothers) Orchestra and branched out into pan the following year, joining Starlight Steel Orchestra the following year. In 1972, he edged nearer to the limelight with the legendary Esquires Combo.
Four years later, PG formed his own group, Charlie's Roots, initially as an in-house band for K. Studios. In addition to recording numerous radio and television jingles, the group accompanied many of the Caribbean's leading artistes, including BlueBoy (now SuperBlue), David Rudder, Sugar Aloes, Calypso Rose and Singing Francine.
Recipient of the Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Silver award for Culture (1994), Goddard is best known for his work as keyboardist/arranger with Charlie's Roots but PG is equally adept at a number of other musical styles.
From early in his youth has been a regular tassa drummer with the Balma (Emamali) Hosay group. He also made his mark in the steelband world long before relatively recent successes with the formidable Sagicor Exodus Steel Orchestra, having led the Third World Steelband to public adulation during the 1970s.
He started playing the piano at age 9 and apart from the Berklee course and a short period of apprenticeship with Clive Bradley in 1972, Goddard has largely taught himself the various arts and aspects of the music industry, and education that today manifests as a one-stop shop at his recording studio, Agra 9 in St James.
In addition to his widely celebrated talents as arranger and producer, Goddard has positively impacted the soca scene as a songwriter, penning a catalogue of monster hits, including "The Hammer", "Dedication Dus' In Dey Face", "Savannah Party", "Jungle Fever", "Callaloo" and "Calabash"; all of which were recorded by Rudder.
In the long interim, PG has enjoyed the singular success of having arranged music for 13 calypsoes that won the road-march title, even as he arranged music for steelbands during Carnival and played a packed diary of seasonal fetes. His arrangement of "Gold" and "American Patrol" for Third World (steel orchestra) stayed on the charts for a full year.
Indeed, it was Goddard who arranged and produced Blueboy's "Rebecca" that so impressed Witco Desperadoes' arranger Clive Bradley to the point of taking the band to winners' row. And it was the same Goddard who arranged the vocal version of "Unknown Band" that, with the treatment of Leon "Smooth" Edwards, did the same for Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars.
His success as arranger for the astonishing list of road march calypsoes and for Sagicor Exodus Steel Orchestra has ranked him as "Mr Calypso" in both arenas. Between 1992 -20004 PG's association with Exodus has earned the band four national titles, in addition to an equal number of second and third places in the annual competition.
Over the past 20 years he has released over 15 recordings including a very memorable duet with Len "Boogsie" Sharpe called 'Sticks & Fingers', which featured background vocals by Natalie York and Carol Jacobs. In short, PG has been a significant presence and ranks as a pioneer in the contemporary period of evolution of Trini music; and still a regular performer, producer and consultant in the genre. In 2002 he received the Sunshine Award as arranger of the year.
In any 12-month period, he shuttles between recording his almost annual Christmas CDs, arranging and producing music the music of various artists for the upcoming Carnival and arranging prize-winning pieces for Exodus Steel Orchestra. At foreign festivals based on the Trini model he is equally busy, most notably working with Marsicans Steel Orchestra in Brooklyn, New York for that city's Labour Day Carnival.
Goddard credits his wife Glenda who not only takes care of business for Agra 9 Studio but brings up their son Gerald and is the perfect host to visitors at their St James studios.
As this year's WeBeat honouree, PG, to whom the festival's opening night is dedicated, joins a list of the most revered residents of St James accorded such respect since inception in 2001, including local Hosay pioneer Mohammed "Humdo" Emamali, pan innovator/inventor Anthony "Tony" Williams, historian Norman Darway and legendary choreographer, Julia Edwards.
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