Dr Jit Sukha Samaroo
Jit Samaroo was born 24 February,
One of his early musical influences was his mother, who was a versatile dholak player. This led to his involvement in pan at the age of ten when he joined the Village Boys, a pan-around-the-neck steelband. Here he learned the art of playing the tenor pan and later went on to win a solo ping competition in 1972.
In 1962 his mother passed away and with no income Jit formed a family combo, where he played the guitar. They were eventually disbanded due to the lure of the steelband. At fourteen, he became a member of the LBC Steel Orchestra. To enhance his understanding of music he began to read music and take music lessons.
In 1967 he formed the Samaroo Kids in order to earn a living. This band became the platform for Jit’s creativity and with Jit’s knowledge of the guitar, complex arrangements of chord progressions emerged.
The pans were made by Bertram Kelman who was the pan tuner for the Renegades Steel Orchestra. When an opportunity arose in 1971, it was Kelman who paved the way for Jit to become the arranger for the Renegades.
This partnership made Jit Samaroo the most coveted arranger, winning nine Panorama titles between 1982 and 1997.
An example of his meticulous arranging style was demonstrated in 1989 when he used six different rhythms in his arrangement of Somebody (calypso, soca, merengue, samba, zouk, and disco) to win Panorama.
Jit is also the first arranger in the history of the Panorama to win the title three times in straight succession and to win five times in one decade.
In 1987 he was awarded a Silver Humming Bird Medal of Merit.
In 1995 he was awarded a Silver Chaconia Medal.
In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies.
In 2008 due to ill heath his baton was passed on to his son Amrit, who had much success with the Renegades Youth Steel Orchestra. Sadly Armit’s time at the helm of the Renegades was short lived and in 2010 the Samaroo dynasty came to an end.
In 2014 local artist Darren Cheewah created one of Trinidad’s largest murals at the Renegades panyard. The mural included a tribute to Jit at the request of the steelband.
On 7 January 2016, Jit passed away at home.
His victories at Panorama:
1982 – Pan Explosion;
1984 – Sweet Pan;
1985 – Pan Night and Day;
1989 – Somebody;
1990 – Iron Man;
1993 – Mystery Band;
1995 – Four Lara Four;
1996 – Pan in a Rage
1997 – Guitar Pan.