Mr Ray Holman, Doctor of Letters (DLitt)

TT – Musician, educator, and holder of a Hummingbird Medal (Silver) Award, Mr. Ray Holman grew up surrounded by the pan yard of the ‘40s and ‘50s in his hometown where he started with Invaders Steel Orchestra in 1957 at 13 years old and composing his first original piece ‘Ray’s Saga’.

From 1963 onwards, Mr. Holman has been involved in several steel bands including Starlift Steelband, Phase II Pan Groove, Exodus, Skiffle Bunch, and Invaders Steel Orchestra, throughout the years, to name a few. Mr. Holman made history in 1972 when Starlift performed his original composition, ‘Pan on the Move’ at Panorama – the very first original composition to be played at the annual steelband competition. In the following years, his original compositions included ‘Pan Woman’, ‘Life’s Too Short’, ‘Steelband Paradise’ and ‘Heroes of the Nation’, and he paved the way for future savants to compose for Panorama.

He completed his degree in Sociology and Spanish at The UWI St Augustine, and immediately began teaching Spanish and History at Fatima College upon completing his studies. Mr. Holam has served as a Spanish interpreter at the 1974 CONCACAF Conference, a member of the Bureau of Standards Committee, and a board member of the Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Organization.

His career in music has carried him throughout the Caribbean, North and South America, Europe, and Asia as a composer, arranger, performer, co-director, festival adjudicator, artist-in-residence, guest artiste, and university faculty member. Between 2000 and today, Mr. Holman composed and arranged over 300 songs for steelbands and events and has performed internationally. In 2010, homage was paid to him in the Tribute to Ray Holman Concert at Queen’s Hall, Port-of-Spain. In 2020, he added ‘vocalist’ to the list of his professions with the release of his 6th album, First Love.

He has also been granted the Award for Contribution to Steelband Music from the Society of Young Achievers, the Award from Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Institute as a Legend of Pan, the Award from the Carnival Commission for Musical Contribution to Carnival, the Ellie Mannette Award for Excellence in Steelband Music, and the Award from Pan Trinbago. His accolades include induction into the Queen’s Royal College Hall of Fame, and he was named as one of the 50 national icons of Trinidad and Tobago at the commemoration of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.