Composer, arranger and steel drum performer from Trinidad, Ray
Holman is perhaps the most talented proponent of his art form internationally.
He has arranged and recorded with steel bands and artists in the
U.S., Canada, Latin America, Japan and Europe, including televised
performances with the German National Orchestra which showcased
his compositions. He composed the highly acclaimed score for Black
Orpheus, staged by Crossroads Theatre Company in New Jersey in 1991,
and has been a featured performer in film, television and at venues
such as Madison Square Garden, the Super Bowl and the St. Lucia
A University of the West Indies graduate and former high school
teacher, he has conducted workshops at West Virginia University
and was a Commissioned Composer in the California State University
Summer Arts Program. He regularly attends the bi-annual steelband
tuning and arranging workshop at Humboldt State University in Arcata,
California and has done presentations at meetings of the Percussive
Arts Society. During 1998-2000 he was a distinguished Visiting Artist
in the Ethnomusicology Program at the University of Washington,
Ray has won many prestigious musical awards, including the Hummingbird
Silver Medal of Merit from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago
and a Pan Legend Award from the New York Folk Arts Institute and
the U.S. Congress. He was recognized for his musical contribution
by the Republic Pan Fiesta 2003, A Tribute to Ray Holman.
IN 1957, Ray began playing pan at 13 with Invaders Steelband, led
by legendary pan tuner Ellie Mannette. Later, he became its arranger,
doing classical interpretations such as "Dream
of Olwen" and "Etude in A b."
In 1963, Holman and others revived the band Starlift, and his
arrangements made it the then most popular band in Trinidad. He
had instant success with "I Feel Pretty"
from the musical "West Side Story."
At 20, he became the youngest player to win the solo Ping Pong
(an early version of the tenor pan)competition in the 1964 Trinidad
and Tobago Music Festival. He began experimenting with the jazz
idiom as a soloist, while touring and performing on television with
the Queen’s Royal College Jazz Group led by his teacher Scofield
Ray emerged as the most musically progressive steelband arranger,
and his innovative arrangements won two Panorama championships for
Starlift in 1969, with Lord Kitchener’s “The Bull”
and in 1970 with the Mighty Sparrow’s "Queen
of The Bands". In 1972, he became the first arranger
to compose and play his own music for the National Steelband Panorama
competition. Appropriately titled “Pan On the Move,”
the composition won the National Preliminaries and is now a musical
landmark. Since then, he has arranged for many top steelbands, including
Pandemonium, Carib Tokyo, Exodus, Phase II Pan Groove, Hummingbirds
His first CD, A Tribute to Ray Holman,
featured eight of his Panorama compositions. With his jazz sensibility
and unique improvisational style, Ray continues to delight audiences
worldwide with the timeless quality of his music.