Pampalam Barbados is the newest Grand Kadooment band and it is turning heads. The band, founded by New York-based Barbadian, Simone Arthur, is debuting on Spring Garden Highway for the first time this year and it has brought something new to the road – no feathers.
Its theme, Petals of Paradise, celebrates the flora and fauna of the island’s landscape. The costumes are well constructed and vibrant. The four sections include the Pride of Barbados, Anthurium, Frangipani, and Black Orchid Flowers. Designed by London-based designer, Melissa Simon-Hartman, and New York-based designer, Desma Bidjou-Kerekes, the four sections are a breathtaking tribute to Barbados’ horticulture.
Bandleader Simone Arthur told Bajan Vibes that she was bringing “wearable art” to the Grand Kadooment stretch. These innovative creations told a story of the beauty of Barbados.
“For me, as a masquerader, I was ready for a change. For me personally, I was all feathered out and not to take away from anybody else’s band because there is still a market for that… for me personally, I was ready for something different and something new. I realised I was not the only one.
“I thought maybe I can get 300 like-minded individuals to wear the costume without feathers, who would actually appreciate that experience and kind of get into the costume as well because when you wear these costumes and somebody asks you about it, you can actually get a story,” she explained.
Arthur revealed she has been participating in the revelry of Crop Over since the age of 17. Given the personal significance of the festival, she was motivated to make her own contribution to the festivities as well. She started by sponsoring a section in Xhosa and last year, Pampalam Barbados debuted at Notting Hill Carnival. She sought to wave the Barbadian flag locally and internationally.
The term ‘Pampalam’ is a tribute to her patriotism as well.
“I want that my band reflects what is Barbados – our dance, our music, our art, our culture, our flowers, our animals, our trees, our birds. Everything that has to do with us or is connected to us. As time goes by, there are different things that get you excited to go home and I just thought that for me I wanted to implant something of me in there instead of me just purchasing a costume. I just wanted a brand in there to be a part of this history and I think Pampalam is in good standing,” she continued.
Arthur revealed that Pamapalam Barbados will be partnering with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), CHUM FM in Toronto, Canada and noted Barbadian mixologist Damien Williams to ensure a thrilling road experience for locals, visitors, and the Barbadian diaspora.