PHOTO: (left end) Well-known steel pan specialist Melvin ‘Mellie’ Hewlett has been awarded a Patron of Carnival Award. In this 2015 photo, he is seen in action at a ‘Pan in Splendor’ event at the St. Johnston’s Community Center of which he was a director. (Credit: zizonline.com)

By: Precious Mills

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts– In observance of the theme: ‘Participate, Get in the Mix for Sugar Mas 46’, the annual St.Kitts-Nevis National Carnival was officially launched on Friday 17th November  before an impressive crowd assembled at The Circus in the heart of Basseterre.

That night, the participants of the various competitions were formerly introduced to the public including- The Miss National Carnival Queen Pageant, Miss National Carnival Swimsuit Pageant and the National Carnival Mr. GQ Competition whose individual sponsorship was revealed following a raffle dip type of selection.

Partakers in the Talented Teen Pageant and Junior Calypso competition also took to the stage. New to the teen pageant this time around is the first contestant from the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College.

Well-known steel pan specialist and music icon Melvin ‘Mellie’ Hewlett has been awarded a Patron of Carnival Award.

Director of Culture Troy ‘Biff’ Mills praised Hewlett as “one of the most celebrated musicians of our times and has been ever since he began playing in 1967.

He continued: “For 50 years Mellie has been learning and perfecting the art of steel pan music since then. During this time, he has travelled regionally as well as internationally to entertain and represent St.Kitts and Nevis place such as St. Thomas Colombia, Vancouver , Washington, New York , Toronto and , St. Maarten and most recently Bermuda.”

Mills disclosed that Hewlett plays every single pan there is to play but that his specialty is in the double tenner which is also one of the more technical steel pans, noting that his repertoire includes but is not limited to R& B, Soca, Calypso, Classic, Reggae, Gospel, Dancehall and Zouk.

The Award was accepted by Hewlett’s son on behalf of the respected local instrumentalist who was unable to attend the opening ceremony.

Minister of Culture, Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards, pointed to his seriousness having encouraged more citizens and residents to participate in Sugar Mas 46.

“This year for Carnival we want to more and more persons participating in the different activities. I know that some of you have a sense of fear about joining in a troupe for J’ouvert or even at least participating in a Carnival troupe.”

He added: “I once had the same fear like many of you and the first time I did it, I enjoyed it and since then I continue to do it so those of you who have that fear, try it this year and I assure you that you will have fun.”

According to Richards: “Carnival is about getting together with friends and family and having a real good time and this year we are hoping to deliver a product that allows you to do just that.”