Celebration of Women
Tribute To Women In Pan - 2005
MY LIFE AND MY CULTURE
Sade Constantine is one of New York's premiere panists who excels on any pan, but her instrument of choice is the double second. She is also a budding steelpan arranger.
I have been playing pan since I was four and now I’m 18; being part of the steel drum community has become my life. It is something that I have never stopped enjoying; I have grown to realize that whatever I do in life, I can never forget something [pan] that is part of where I am from. It’s now the 21st century and having women in pan is nothing unusual; the steel pan world has made very rapid progress in the way the steel drum is created, and most of all the people who play it.
Looking back or hearing stories from people who played pan when it was “pan round de neck,” you think of how many women you would see out there playing, and if so the response was that of maybe surprise. Now - being a female playing pan is quite a normal thing and really welcoming. You enjoy the friendly competition sometimes inside your band, where, because you are a girl, you have a boy that thinks he is better, so sometimes you just go at it for a little while, just to enjoy yourself and improve your skills.
When I first started playing pan it was more for my enjoyment; there was no reason behind it; there wasn't really knowledge of what playing this instrument actually symbolizes. From four years old I would just go in the pan yard and play any pan with any stick - which is one of the reasons why I was called “one-stick Sade”. Now that I have grown it has a greater significance; to me it is the only instrument that makes me stand out from others who play instruments. Anyone can say they read music or they play saxophone or violin but there is something that sets you aside from others when you can say "I play the steel pan. "
When you stand aside and watch how women like Glenda Forde from Pantonic and Jean Mayers (Aunty Jean) from ADLIB who normally would not be in that sort of environment, now actually go out of their way to make a band successful, and provide them [band members] with what they need, it is actually a very big thing. It helps you to see where the future of women in steel pan is heading. Just as any man or “pan jumbie” would give up a lot and sacrifice for a band, [it] is just as hard that women are now working to do the same for the steel pan and the whole steel pan movement.
My views on women playing pan, arranging music, and running bands are that we will only continue to get better and we will also become a stronger influence on whatever goes on. Women can only help to diversify and strengthen what is done about the direction of where the steel pan is going. A woman’s voice as well as a man’s voice is better, rather than just having one voice. It can only get better when everyone, men and women, get together.
The pan - years from now - would be the new marching band or orchestra. It has not been recognized yet as it should, but in time to come I hope that pan would be as well known as hip hop; but if not, I know that I will be there to make sure that it never fails, and it will always be part of my life.
I am Sade Constantine - a Woman in Pan and that will never change because playing pan is MY LIFE AND MY CULTURE.
Adlib Steel Orchestra
© 2005 and courtesy Sade Constantine
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March 15, 2005