Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

 

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Lakeisha Danglade - Brooklyn, New York

“....now I just love to play; it’s in my blood. I feel like I’m a part of this somewhat secret society because there are many people in the world who still do not know about Steelpan today.

“....I do love to teach, especially technique. There are many kids and adults who have never seen a pan before let alone played one.... I believe pan should be in every school just like the piano, violin and other instruments, etc..”

She is one of Brooklyn’s finest panists. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - panist, performing artist and passionate music educator Lakeisha Danglade shares her reflections, experiences and views on Pan, and the steelpan art form overall.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive



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WST - “Tell us about Lakeisha Danglade?”

Lakeisha D. - “My name is Lakeisha Danglade, from Brooklyn, New York. I started learning to play pan in my house around 1991 and it was through my grandfather, Hilton Danglade; he used to play pan with Kintups Steelband in Trinidad and Tobago. When he came to America, I honestly don’t know why - but he bypassed his 5 sons and forced me and my 2 sisters, Tiffany and Thayshia to play tenor. Oh lawd, we used to cry, when he was teaching us. He forced us to play in school and Church. Later on my grandmother, Hennetta Danglade (R.I.P.) found CASYM Steel Orchestra playing somewhere and got us to join CASYM in 1994.”


WST - “Is there anything else that is, comparable - like pan, for you?”

Lakeisha D. - “No.”


WST - “Every year you and many other young people sacrifice and invest a good portion of their time towards Panorama. What keeps your passion for Panorama, Pan and the culture going?”

Lakeisha D. - “Even though my Gramps forced me to play in the beginning, now I just love to play; it’s in my blood. I feel like I’m a part of this somewhat secret society because there are many people in the world who still do not know about Steelpan today. Me, being apart of the ‘Heavy-T bumpa’ side (you know, thick), I love to show that we got skills too. I just love to perform, jamming and jumping up with my family and friends in CASYM; it’s just a wonderful feeling.”


WST - “What, if anything, do you dislike about Pan, and why?”

Lakeisha D. - “I honestly, dislike that most of the instruments, well, the background ones, are not standardized. Pan is underrated in New York compared to Trinidad, as in that Panorama prize money needs to go up and I feel When Steel Talks should mic and produce the visuals :-).”

Lakeisha Danglade
Lakeisha Danglade

WST - “You have grown up in and around Pan; what do you find most different now as an adult, as compared to when you were very much younger, in the art form?”

Lakeisha D. - “Well when I was younger, learning and playing it was just for fun, CASYM was a ‘1 band, 1 sound.’ You could not play in any other bands and I never spoke to anyone from another band. During Panorama, I wasn’t a part of it - but there were plenty fights with other band members. Now as I’m older I have become an Instructor, teaching beginners, playing on gigs as a small form of income. There is more of a unity now (thanks to NYSSO (New York Symphonic Steel Orchestra) and BSO (Brooklyn Steel Orchestra)), knowing and speaking to members of different bands. Now for Panorama, it still sucks to lose but there is no hostility, we congratulate one another compared to back then.”


Lakeisha Danglade
Lakeisha Danglade

WST - “Take us through your years and experiences with CASYM, and steelpan in general?”

Lakeisha D. - “I have been playing in CASYM since 1994 but my first Panorama was in 1996. Back then, I’m not gonna lie, when I was a beginner, definitely quiet and shy, playing guitar finally on [CASYM’s] stage side: can you say Pan “Hoggers”?

“The people in my section never used to let me play, neither wanted to teach me really. My grandfather bought me my own guitar pan, and he bored a hole in the bottom of the pan and chained it up every time I took it down. My looking and learning became on point. The only person in my section who really took the time to teach me was and still is, boss musician Khuent Rose, and I am so thankful to him because he shaped me into the master panist that I am today.

“Within two years into stage side, I received an award for the most improved player from CASYM which surprised me, and showed me how much I have grown musically. When it came to Panorama beginners were put in the back, but putting in my years into CASYM, I finally became a Frontline player and Section leader, which I still am to this day, more confident and social. I played Guitar for 8 years, moving onto Cello for the rest, plus playing Bass. Man, I could play them all, well the ones in CASYM.”


WST - “You, and several other young women (and young men) from CASYM are part of an education team active within the New York City school system, introducing many to the instrument.  Talk about this initiative, your thoughts, successes?”

Lakeisha D. - “I do love to teach, especially technique. There are many kids and adults who have never seen a pan before let alone played one; well - in this era, for kids it’s all about sports, video games, twerking, and being self-consumed. I believe pan should be in every school just like the piano, violin and other instruments, etc. Pan is not for everyone but I think one should have the opportunity to choose for themselves.”


WST - “You are a valued member of one of the most respected steel orchestras. What is it that makes CASYM Steel Orchestra different?”

Lakeisha D. - “I don’t really know about other bands but I grew with CASYM. I was a student and then became an Instructor. I was 8 when I started playing in CASYM, now I’m 29. The bond, love and respect that I have for my band is unbreakable and unlike anything I can imagine.”


WST - “What would be your advice to young women who would like to become involved with the steelpan art form?”

Lakeisha D. - “Practice, Practice, Practice, Technique is key and master whatever your first instrument is and then you can play anything you want.”


WST - “If women controlled many more aspects of Pan, what would be different?”

Lakeisha D. - “Better communication and organization.”


WST - “Have all aspects of discrimination towards the steelpan musicians in general, become a thing of the past, among your generation?”

Lakeisha D. - “I believe yes, it has.”


WST - “Tell us about you International Panorama experience.”

Lakeisha D. - “At first, I was a little hesitant with playing with Brooklyn Steel Orchestra (BSO) because my loyalty is to CASYM but it was amazing. The band was well organized and filled with the “Crackshots” [ace musicians]. Playing for [International] Panorama, I loved to see bands from all over come together, hearing the different styles watching their techniques and feeling their vibes; it was pretty interesting. For BSO to come 4th—being the only foreign band in the top 5— can you say ‘Tears’! It was amazing and I was so glad and grateful to have been apart of that experience.”


WST - “What is your favorite Panorama piece?”

Lakeisha D. - “There are too many but Arddin Herbert’s Tell Dem, Duvone Stewart’s Fantastic Friday, BSO’s Ah Feeling.”


WST - “Who is your favorite arranger?”

Lakeisha D. - “Arddin Herbert.”


WST - “Is Panorama a blessing or a curse?”

Lakeisha D. - “A little bit of both.”


WST - “If you had the power to change something in Pan immediately - what would that be?”

Lakeisha D. - “The Panorama prize money; ‘boi,’ it would be way higher and I would not prolong bands receiving their money.”

Lakeisha Danglade
Lakeisha Danglade

WST - “What is your fondest memory with Pan?”

Lakeisha D. - “CASYM playing at my Grandmother’s Repass. That moment I will never forget.”


WST - “What is your vision for Pan in New York?”

Lakeisha D. - “For pan to be in most schools and Steel Bands will have their own Pan yard space.”


WST - “Are there any other steelband related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Lakeisha D. - “No, just would like to shout my Danglade Family & Friends, Mr. William Jones and Travis Roberts, I love you guys.”

Lakeisha Danglade performing with CASYM




Their Story, Their Voice, Their Life, Their Dreams - click for more stories

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