Celebration of Women
and the Steelpan Art Form

                                                              Tribute To Women In Pan - 2005

You've Come A Long Way... Baby!
 Notes From A Pan-Dad

I'll be real with  you.  As a youth I grew up in and played with a male-dominated, conservative, chauvinist steelband.  Pan was a man's thing.  The males in my family were all ranking panmen.  The concept of a female on pan was foreign to me.  Women on pan?  Preposterous!  Until one New York Labor Day morning in the early seventies.  In those days steelbands ruled Labor day.  Although, I was quite young at the time I had ready played in a panorama and had a couple of years road-playing experience. 

This particular Labor day, as I was on my way to my band I checked out all the other bands playing along side Eastern Parkway at the staging area.  I remember the moment like it was yesterday,  Their pans were all black and they were playing Shadow's Bassman.  As I approached this particular  band I saw what appeared to be a female figure.  I rubbed my eyes in disbelief.  I must be hallucinating?  As I got closer I could see that it was clearly a "GIRL" on bass.  In reality this young woman may have been in her late teens to early twenties.  All females were girls to me at this time as I was only eleven or twelve at the time.  I thought to myself this is sacrilegious.  Why are they allowing this girl to mimic pan movements behind our glorious instrument?  As I got closer I was faced with the realization that she was not mimicking but actually playing.  And playing very well.  I approached this 'girl from Mars' with total amazement.  Obviously she wasn't from Earth!  I approached her very cautiously.  Trying to figure out how she was doing this.  The expression on my face must have resembled the curious, weird and disbelieving look Europeans give when they come upon a steelpan for the first time - trying to figure where the sound is coming from.  After carefully studying this girl specimen for a time in a transfixed daze, I was forced to reconsider my faulty logic.  Not only did women play pan, but they could play pan at a very high level.  And to my band's leaders' credit - the following year there were no less than six women in the steelband I played with.

That was many years ago.  Today women now play prominent roles in every aspect of the pan adventure.  Women playing pan is the norm all over the world.  They have brought talent and sustainable energy to the pan movement.  I am now a proud pan-dad as my 11 year old daughter has already embarked on her pan venture as a double tenor player.  I could not conceive of depriving her of this experience.  Much respect to all the pan women past, present and future.

A Pan-Dad


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