Meet the Arranger and Performer Champion, Cordel Byam
Cordel Byam was apparently intended to be related to the steelpan (his favorite voice in the instrument family is the cello). From the age of nine, with one of Granada’s finest steel orchestras, New Dimension, practicing right outside his home, his path was mapped out as he passed his nineteen premieres. years with the group, part of that time guided by the group’s precedents. longtime champion arranger David “Peck” Edwards.
“He made me develop a musical ear,” Cordel says of Edwards, comparing the latter’s style to that of the late Master Clive Bradley and the iconic Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. These are also his main steelband influences, as well as the late legend Dr Jit Samaroo. Cordel has learned well, as evidenced by the results of his first entry into the country’s National Panorama this year. He definitely made his musical mark because his arrangement of
Problem in the morning and the group’s scintillating performance led to
New dimension steel orchestra to be crowned champions of the country’s Panorama 2019 competition.
Champion arranger Cordel Byam
We are a long way from his first days as an arranger at the country’s Junior Panorama, for him in 2011. Because even if the judges “placed” him second, “they actually wanted to disqualify me … because they said that Mr. Edwards
did the song [Power In The Soca]”, revealed Cordel. The judges just didn’t believe Cordel could be as good. Apparently, due to the current mindset of the Junior Panorama judges, they would continue to clinch back-to-back ‘second’ positions for two. years older.
Those days are far behind him; he has now triumphed on his country’s national Panorama scene, a momentous achievement, especially since David “Peck” Edwards himself has also arranged the same Panorama for two other groups. The arbitration, it seems, may have revolved around the reality of the talents of a still young Cordel Byam.
Before leading New Dimension to its twelfth National Panorama Championship in 2019, the musical association had already resulted in a recent triumph. A few months earlier, he had organized
Bridge over troubled waters for the orchestra in ‘Pan Xpression’ (the version
Bomb Music Competition). For Cordel, it was his hat-trick in this musical arena, his third consecutive “Pan Xpression” victory. The first two came during
his time as an arranger for the Pan Wizards Steel Orchestra, where this collaboration “won gold” in 2017 and 2018.
But 2019 was bittersweet for Cordel; he lost his beloved sister Adrina “Dreazy” Byam – herself an ace panist – to lupus on February 23. Along with other New Dimension players, Cordel dedicated the Pan Xpression and Panorama victories to Adrina. On the success of Pan Xpression: “The
Bridge over troubled waters It wasn’t my victory, to be completely honest, it was my sister’s … During all of my victories, she was there.
Regarding the art form of steelband in Grenada, he would like to see “the government look more interest in younger people, try to implement it. [Pan] in schools.
Music is really Cordel’s life; as the group’s musical director, he collaborates year round with the New Dimension stage and is a stage artist with his trio “Smooth Expressions”. It is also part of the Caribbean Music Tour with Carnival Cruise Line. Cordel is run by his brother Nigel Byam.
Championship performance of the New Dimension Steel Orchestra at the National Panorama of Granada 2019