Life and Merits
Jit Samaroo was born in Surrey, Trinidad, the seventh of 13 children in a family of East Indian origin. At the age of 10, he joined the shortlived Village Boys pan-round-the-neck side. His mother, who loved playing the dholak, died in 1962, and so, young Jit, appointed the task of taking care of younger siblings, formed the Samaroo kids combo.
They were initially Parang players - Jit on guitar pan, Girlie on cowbell, Vidya on the drums, Baboolal on maracas, and brother Sonilal on scratcher - but by the age of 14, already a self-confessed "slave to steelpan", Jit joined the Lever Brothers Canboulay Steelband. There he learned and mastered all the orchestra's instruments. Recognising young Jit's talent, the musical director Landeg White allowed him to help arrange the band's calypsos, and also arranged for him to have music lessons.
In 1972, Jit won the Ping Pong (solo) category at the Steelband Music Festival. In that year too, Amoco Renegades tuner Bertrand "Butch" Kellman made the necessary connections for Jit to land the job of arranger with the Charlotte Street band.
Then began a long and successful relationship, with Jit helping the band to victory in Panorama on nine occasions. In 1984 Amoco Renegades won by 17.5 points, the widest margin ever recorded in Panorama finals which lasted until 2005. In 1989 he silenced critics who said he could only arrange Lord Kitchener calypsos, with an arrangement of Baron's "Somebody", that combined as many as six rhythms in one calypso arrangement. Also BP Renegades under his arrangements is the only steel orchestra to have three successive wins in Panorama, 1995/1996 with De Fosto's calypsoes and 1997 with a Lord Kitchener calypso.
A versatile composer and occasional bass player in his family band the Samaroo Jets, Jit was awarded the Hummingbird Medal of Merit (Silver) in 1987, as well as the Chaconia Medal (silver) in 1995. In 2003, Samaroo was given an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies.
Victories with the Renegades Steel Orchestra
|1985||"Pan Night and Day"|
|1995||"Four Lara Four"|
|1996||"Pan in a Rage"|
Renegades!: The Story of the BP Renegades Steel Orchestra, Macmillan Caribbean, 2002. ISBN 978-0-333-73311-0
- "2004 Trinidad & Tobago Panorama", When Steel Talks.
"400 Questions and Answers on Pan from 1960 to Present" by Ian R. Franklin