Codrington Pan Family
2014 Tune of choice: “E.P.I.C.” | arranger Keisha Codrington & Cary Codrington
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The Trinidadian-born family— Cary Codrington, his wife Karen, and children Kareem (25), Khari (23), Kaijah (21), Keisha (19), Kamau (16) and Kizzi (14) has been performing together for just above 10 years and has already travelled a path that has taken them from the depths of uncertainty to the top of their game as all-rounded musicians and inspirators. Influenced by works of the Jackson 5, Bob Marley and Ray Charles, it is their aspiration to send a message of hope to broken homes while portraying the versatility of the steelpan and performing music in a way that speaks to the heart. When Cary and Karen first met each other, they had no idea of what their love for each other and their love for the steelpan would have accomplished. However, that love—so genuine, inspired Cary to compose a song that he gave the name ‘Destiny.’ Almost 25 years later, that song will be featured as a bonus track on the Codrington Pan Family’s soon-to-be-released CD.
In an effort to improve their unfortunate living conditions, the band began in 1999 with one tenor pan entertaining passers-by on the streets of Port of Spain. They have since acquired more instruments and have performed extensively throughout Trinidad and Tobago. They have also appeared in events held in Antigua, Venezuela, Japan, Las Vegas and Hollywood, California to name a few. Some of their notable performances were for prominent persons such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew—Duke of York, Excellencies King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain, and the former Prime Minister of Malaysia—Abdullah Ahmad Badawi also to name a few. To add diversity to their performances, they have at times incorporated other instruments outside of the steelpan family. After one event a local newspaper stated that Cary, his wife, and his children, “displayed their virtuoso skills on a range of instruments that included saxophone, bass guitar, keyboard, drums, percussion and steelpan.” — The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper.
The band’s achievements range between gold medals, trophies and special mentions in both online and printed articles. They have won many competitions. Cary, along with his son Khari and daughter Keisha arrange and compose all of the music for the band. In fact, in the recent Steelband Music Festival—Pan Is Beautiful XII, the band copped first place performing ‘The Pan With Love: Our Gift to the World,’ a 12- minute piece composed by Keisha and further adapted by her father and brother Khari. They came up against other bands that played compositions by world-renowned composers such as Johannes Brahms, Howard Shore and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. That night, states a newspaper article, “19-year-old Keisha Codrington proved that local composers can stand up to any other if the execution of the song is almost flawless.” — Trinidad Express Newspaper.
Cary Codrington has also expressed faith in his children’s musical abilities by allowing Khari and Keisha to arrange the music for their three recent video releases. The videos featured steelpan covers of Chris Brown’s ‘Fine China,’ Bruno Mars’ ‘Treasure’ and ‘When I Was Your Man.’ Two of his other sons Kareem and Kaijah now build the pans for the band. His wife, Karen, serves as the band’s drummer. Even though the music has served to be an adhesive quality for the family during times of distress, Cary has made it known that his wife plays a key role in keeping the family together.
The Codrington Pan Family, at the top of their game, seem to be now getting started as they continue with an extremely successful music career.
For the annual National Panorama season in Trinidad & Tobago, other musicians join the ranks of the Codrington Pan Family, swelling its numbers to accommodate participation in the small steel orchestra category in the annual competition.