Calypso Music

Roots Revives Caribbean Nights

Pelham Goddard, the man behind this fortnightly special, has been responsible for some of the biggest soca hits of the last four decades. He has been the musical genie behind the late Maestro, Calypso Rose, SuperBlue, David Rudder and Chris “Tambu” Herbert.

Musician, arranger, producer, Goddard began his career at a very early age, since the days of the combos, graduating into the studio as the keyboardist for all the big name artistes of the era. He played everything, be it calypso or local pop ballads and was eventually also part of the creation of a new hybrid calypso genre, made by Lord Shorty, the late Ras Shorty I.

In 1975 a small group of musicians which comprised of drums, bass, guitar, saxophone and Goddard on keyboards formed a band and called it Sensational Roots. The band was based at KH studios in Sea Lots where it did most of the studio’s products on its label, on the Kalinda label. The quickly hailed as the country’s top studio band and was hired the do a project with the Wild Fire singing group, embarking on a whistlestop tour, traversing the entire nation, with star guests like Mavis John. Roots also worked with celebrated playwright Derek Walcott on one of his productions at The Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook.

In 1976, when the studio upgraded to 16-track facility, New York-based Trini entrepreneur Rawlston “Charlie” Charles signed Goddard and Roots to record the calypso Savage with Maestro. The single was a mega hit. That year, Roots also was also a hit for Labour Day Carnival. After producing Kitchener’s Christmas hit Drink A Rum, Charles decided to sponsor Roots as a road band. Now known as Charlie’s Roots, the aggregation set about promoting the new wave sound of soca.

On Charles’ CR label, in 1977, Roots produced two songs for Maestro–Calypso Music and Play Me. The band also did More Tempo and Action Is Tight for Calypso Rose, and she won the Road March title, a first for Goddard.

After the Carnival ’77, Roots returned to New York and purchased all the instruments and equipment to start Charlie’s Roots, officially launched in July 1977. Ironically, simultaneously, on the same night of the launch, a new mas band was launched by a talented artist who would change the face of T&T mas forever–his name was Peter Minshall. Minshall and Charlie’s Roots remained joined at the hip for the next 15 years.

In 1978, Calypso Rose repeated the Road March with Goddard’s arrangement of Come Leh we Jam. What happened next was a slew of Road March victories for Goddard, producing hit after hit for Blue Boy (SuperBlue), Penguin, Rudder and Tambu. To this day no one has matched Goddard and Roots record of 12 Road Marches and most popular songs. Included among these hits are Soca Baptist, Rebecca, Ethel, No No We Aint going home, Free up, Bahia Girl, The Hammer, This party is it, Permission to mash up the place, and Bacchanal Lady.

In 1985, Goddard and Roots introduced Caribbean Night, on a Thursday night, at Atlantis Club in West Mall, later renamed Upper Level Club. This programme that grew into something very massive as the aggregation showcased all the music of the Caribbean.

The second coming Caribbean Night has quickly become a regular fixture at The Mas Camp. Blessed with a wealth of superb musicians, Goddard and Roots are guaranteed please crowds at any kind of event.

The band comprises of a 12 piece orchestra and can be contacted for bookings at 738 6940/628 1823, or by e-mail at

For the original report go to

See also: Roots to jam with 3canal at Caribbean Night | Repeating Islands.


In a Calabash or In de Savanah Party: Pelham Makes Music


Musician, arranger, and composer Pelham Goddard has been involved in the musical life of the Caribbean for over 4 decades. Pelham was born into a musical family that includes the renowned steelpan leader, George Goddard. His mother played the piano and his brothers were all actively involved in the steelpan movement in west Port of Spain, Trinidad. The music of the Goddard household took hold of Pelham at an early age, and he took up playing the piano.

Growing up in the town of St. James, with a proliferation of steel orchestras and Hosay yards in close proximity, significantly impacted Pelham musical drive. By the 1960s he actively participated as a drummer in the annual Hosay festival. He also became an in-demand keyboard and bass player for numerous musical aggregations participating in the burgeoning combo culture among young musicians in Trinidad at the time. During the late 60s Pelham made his foray into steelband as a five-bass player with Starlift Steel Orchestra.

The 1970s saw Pelham blossom forth in even greater demand, particularly for his keyboard/paino skill. He was invited to join the musical band, the Dutchy Brothers led by Pete de Vlught. Among the respected musicians he played alongside in this band was Earl Rodney, revered pannist and steelpan arranger. Following this experience with the Dutchies, Pelham was encouraged by the late Clive Bradley, talented musician and pan arranger, to join the Esquires, a combo led by Bradley.

Pelham Goddard – The Combo Experience from Ken Archer on Vimeo.

In this setting Pelham was driven to enhance of knowledge of music theory, and to write and arrange music for the Esquires with Brass. By the mid-70s, Pelham also became a steady studio musician and a stable member of the Art de Coteau Orchestra, which provided accompaniment on many calypso recordings and toured throughout the Caribbean, performing in many Carnivals, festivals, and shows around the region.

The 70s also herald two additional aspects of Pelham musical career. The decade saw Starlift Steel Orchestra endure significant ruptures that led to former members founding Phase II Steel Orchestra led by Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, the now-defunct Pandemonium Steel Orchestra, and the Third World Steel Orchestra. Pelham was recruited as the musical arranger for Third World, which was located in his native St. James. This marked his foray into the world of steelpan arranging, and he has gone on to be one of the foremost steelband arrangers, especially for his work with the Exodus Steel Orchestra.

Change and experiment also characterized the musical environment of the 70s, and Pelham was at the forefront of this. He was intimately involved in the advent of Soca music, performing with the late Garfield Blackman – Ras Shorty I, who is credited with development of this innovative genre in calypso music.

Pelham also played and recorded with Ed Watson, Dr. Soca. This bandleader, arranger, and composer is recognized for his contribution to the Soca genre, and is known to have arranged music for a number singers at the time, including Ras Shorty I and the deceased Aldwyn Roberts – the Lord Kitchener.

Pelham’s sterling contribution to this genre crystalized as founder, leader, and musical arranger for the Charlies Roots band, which became internationally respected for its calypso music played at Carnivals and festivals across the North and South America, Europe , and the Caribbean. Over that period Pelham penned arrangements for 13 road marches in the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and produced music for some calypsonians such as: Calypso Rose, David Rudder, Austin Lyons – Superblue, Chrisopher “Tambu” Herbert, and Cecil Hume – Maestro.

In the following video Pelham Goddard speaks about his early life as a musician in Trinidad; the different influences that shaped his development: his family, the steelbands of St. James, Hosay, and the developing combo scene. Great information, not only about Pelham’s formative years musically, but also the various bands existent at the time. Pelham – The Beginnings