Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Steelband fraternity says farewell to Junior Pouchet


steelband send-off: The body of Junior Pouchet, founder of Silver Stars Steel Orchestra, is borne by his brother Elton Pouchet, left, and son, Pastor Andre Pouchet, following the funeral service at St Finbar's RC Church, Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin, yesterday. —Photo: ROBERTO CODALLO

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The steelband fraternity yesterday came out to the St Finbar's RC Church in Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin, to bid farewell to founding member of the Silver Stars Steel Orchestra Junior Edgar Francis Pouchet.

Pouchet passed away on March 24 in his sleep at his home in Orlando, Florida, USA. He was 75. His family brought his body here for the funeral service, which was followed by cremation at the Cinerary, Long Circular Road, St James.

President of Pan Trinbago Keith Diaz spoke at the funeral, saying Pouchet served the steelband movement well for decades and at the highest levels. Diaz said he found out recently that Pouchet would do arrangements for steelbands free of charge.

"I have had the good fortune to communicate with several leaders who have testimony that Junior Pouchet had done musical arrangements for their bands free of charge. In fact, it seems that Junior always felt compelled to give of his talents and skill so that less fortunate bands could progress," said Diaz.

Diaz said Pouchet also served as a pan adjudicator for Panorama, bomb competitions and Monday night mas. Pouchet, also, according to Diaz, did arrangements for the National Steel Orchestra when it was created.

Diaz said the steelband movement and the nation, by extension, have lost a great man who has thankfully left a great legacy.

Officiating was Fr John Theodore who said Pouchet was a man who knew God well and lived his life in service of God, as well as looking out for people.

Theodore said there are stupid people that focus their lives on material things such as building big houses, having expensive cars and surrounding themselves with influential people when they should be seeking to develop a relationship with God.

"I saw on the television how the tornadoes destroyed homes and vehicles in Texas (USA). Look how easy a tornado can wipe out your nice, comfortable life in one day. The only thing you can carry with you is your relationship with God. Stupid people build up relationships with big-shot friends, build nice houses, build big bank accounts but don't build a relationship with God. Let Junior's funeral make us think about life. Junior knew God. Jesus will not forget how he worked with young people. How he helped people," said Theodore.

Top pannists were in attendance, such as Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, Curtis Pierre, Leon "Smooth" Edwards, Eddie Hart, Earl Patterson, Earl Brooks, Ray Holman, Keith Simpson, Keith Byer, Annise Hadeed and others.

As Pouchet's body was carried to the hearse, members of Silver Stars began playing outside the church and continued for more than half an hour before the drive to the Cinerary began.

Pouchet is survived by his wife, Yvonne, and his, son, Johaan, along with daughters Francine and Michelle. He was the eldest of 11 siblings, Yvette, Camille, Tessa, Heather, Everard, Elliot, Edmund, Elton, Edwin and Edric.

Silver Stars began as a band comprising pupils of St Mary's, Queen's Royal and Fatima Colleges. They are still sometimes lovingly referred to as the first "white-boy" steel orchestra.

In 1953, police arrested six members of the band at 7.30 p.m. for disturbing the peace. The magistrate declared they could not be charged for disturbing the peace before 10 p.m. and ordered that each boy be awarded $200 for wrongful arrest.

Another first achieved by Silver Stars was winning the Band of the Year title in 1963. They are the only steel orchestra to have done the feat to date.