An Interview with Steelpan Musician and Songwriter Avis Bruce - UpClose!

A WST Exclusive with panist and composer Avis Bruce

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Global - Avis Bruce is a professional steelpan musician, arranger, composer and music tutor.  She has been a member of the present Trinidad and Tobago National Steel Symphony Orchestra from its inception; in addition she was a member of the former Trinidad and Tobago National Steel Orchestra.  Avis is currently reading for her Bachelors in Musical Arts at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.  For 2010 Avis collaborated with Amrit Samaroo for the upcoming panorama season, composing a song titled “Somewhere In Tobago.”  Two steel orchestras in the medium band category, both from Tobago - Dixieland and West Side Symphony, are going with the tune for Panorama 2010.

click to see the list of tunes for Panorama 2010

WST - “Is ‘Somewhere Tobago’ your first composition/ collaboration for Panorama?”

Avis - “Yes, it is.”

Avis Bruce

WST - “How did your working/composing relationship develop with Amrit Samaroo, a recognized music composer/arranger in his own right?”

Avis - “Both Amrit and myself became friends in 2002 as study buddies. I have seen him grow as an arranger and composer over the years. My other half, Kareem Brown, who works as his producer, last year they both encouraged me to write - something I’ve always helped with in regard to new melodies, and to make their songs be more original. I came up with the melody while we were traveling to the studio to work on his composition, and they both liked it. This is how “Somewhere in Tobago” began.”

WST - “There are a lot of tunes this year for Panorama 2010. What is your overall opinion on the variety?”

Avis - “First I should say thanks to When Steel Talks for opening up such an avenue for these compositions; people can now listen and enjoy good music. However there are many different styles in the compilation; some of these songs - the melodies do not sit nicely on the instrument. Perhaps they should have panists play them before recording, and make sure it is indeed suitable for panorama. Otherwise arrangers would not select their song to be played in the competition.”

WST - “As one of the younger songwriters in the ‘ring’ - which of the more established or veteran steelpan music composers - have perhaps impacted or inspired you?”

Avis - “I worked with Mark Loquan, Chris Morris, Ken Philmore my brother Myron B and Amrit Samaroo, and many others.  To name one person - it’s kind of difficult. Over the years I’ve met, listened to and enjoyed every individual’s work, and each showed me how easy it is to follow your dreams and stick to it no matter what.”

WST - “What do you wish to see more of in the steelpan music arena/genre - and how might you possibly influence that vision?”

Avis - “More steelpan players writing for the instruments. I have already started, together with Amrit, Kareem, Nigel Diaz - we’ve opened a studio called ‘The Green Room.’ We can help bring a new thing to the panorama arena.”

WST - “In addition to pursuing your music degree at the University of the West Indies - what is next for Avis Bruce?”

Avis - “Continue the new journey as a composer/arranger and song writer, and help others along the way in anyway I can.”

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