By Nelson A. King
In recognition of the outstanding contribution to the development of the steelpan movement in Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua & Barbuda Festivals Commission and the Antigua & Barbuda Pan Association have tagged the 2017 edition of the National Panorama Competition as the ACB – George “Nugget” Joseph Panorama Competition.
Joseph, currently 102 years old, is considered by many as the patriarch of the Antigua and Barbuda steel pan movement.
“Nugget”, as he is popularly known and referred to, is a pioneer of the steel pan movement of Antigua and Barbuda, a founding member of the Hells Gate Steel Orchestra and a treble pan player, the Antigua government said in a statement.
It said “Nugget” served as the secretary and treasurer of the Hells Gate Steel Band from its inception in 1945 until 1958. He was the band’s captain from 1948 to 1958.
In addition to his functions as captain and secretary / treasurer, the government said “Nugget” “took on the responsibility of addressing all negative press that the pan movement faced during the early years.
“His discreet and effective responses via the Antigua Star and the Workers Voice newspapers brought about a change of attitude from the naysayers,” the statement said.
“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our carnival, it is fitting that we honor a man who has been there from the inception and would have worked tirelessly to making pan a significant feature of our annual summer festival,” said Minister with responsibility for Culture and Festivals, E. P. Chet Greene. “He deserves our highest commendations and will forever hold a special place in our history.”
In 1949, the Antigua government said “Nugget” captained Hells Gate Steel Orchestra, when it won the first ever national steel band competition (panorama).
In 1950, he was instrumental in organizing and preparing Hells Gate Steel Orchestra for its first church performance at the St. Peters Anglican Church in Parham Town.
In May and August of 1950, “Nugget” led Hells Gate on tours to St. Kitts.
A year later, he led Hells Steel Orchestra on a tour to Tortola (BVI), St. Thomas and St. Croix (USVI).
In the early 1950s, under the captaincy of “Nugget,” Hells Gate Steel Orchestra participated in a successful Easter Monday boycott of Moody Stuart’s annual horse racing event, according to the government statement. It was organized by Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, Sr., then the chief minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
“The Festivals Commission is working towards a most successful 2017 Panorama Competition and hails the outstanding contribution of Mr. George ‘Nugget’ Joseph to the development of the steel pan movement in Antigua and Barbuda, and the continued corporate support the Antigua Commercial Bank,” the statement said.
The Antigua and Barbuda National Panorama competition will be held on Aug. 4, at 8 pm at Carnival City, St. John’s, the capital.