Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan



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Meet Anita Bonan of Paris, France

Smitten by the beauty of the steelpan instrument, music and culture - Anita Bonan -  organizer, film maker and pan player, from Paris,  France shares her thoughts in an exclusive with WST

A When Steel Talks Exclusive


WST - “When and how were you introduced to the steelpan instrument?”

Anita B. - “20 years ago when I came to Trinidad with Barthelemy Fougea for Panorama. We were following Pamberi [Steel Orchestra] and beginning the shooting of the movie PANMAN.”

WST - “Do you play Pan full time, or do you have a parallel career path?”

Anita B. - “I began to play Pan 10 years ago and of course now I am playing pan a lot - I am so lucky living with Andy Narell and following him. As I know all his repertoire I have lots of opportunities to play... But, before I was very much involved in the development of steelpan in France through Calypsociation (I am a committee member) and Couleurs Carnival (I am president), two associations that were born just after this trip to Trinidad. I do a lot of communication - mostly for the Pan, videos and photos and blogs; (FB: GOING To Paris, FB: Calypsociation, FB: Couleurs Carnival).  Now, I am editing a movie of this unique human experience with birdsong!”

WST - “Talk about your experience this year playing with birdsong steel orchestra in Trinidad?”

Anita B. - “It was just a blessing, I loved the band, I loved the team, and the organization they provided for all those foreigners coming.  I loved the atmosphere, and of course I loved the music! I must say I am missing them a lot.”

Anita Bonan

WST - “Compare your pan yard in France, and your experiences in a Trinidad pan yard.”

Anita B. - “What impresses me most is the power of the structures and organization that is a real unique knowledge in Trinidad. Also, of course, the size of the steel bands and the level of the players. I wish we could have such a big development in Paris.. but not really yet!”

WST - “As far as you know, are there women involved or interested in - steel pan tuning or manufacture in France?”

Anita B. - “Magda Belaid from Calypsociation, who is very interested in tuning Pan. Now, she is leaving in La Reunion and thinking about going to Trinidad to learn [to tune] with Mazzini Gill.”

WST -“Do you have any advice for young women who are interested in playing pan?”

Anita B. - “Just DO IT! It is such a beautiful experience, being a part of an orchestra and learning music through this instrument. In Paris we have lots of women in the school. I always think that the development of Pan has been at the same time as freedom and liberation for women. Music was a really "macho" world, and Steelpan opened the doors to women to be part of orchestras.”

WST - “If you could have a major 'say' in the issue - what would be your vision for the future of the steelpan instrument?”

Anita B. - “We just have to understand that this is something so original and simple that has to go on and develop all over the world.”

WST - “What is your favorite genre of music to play on steelpan?”

Anita B. - “Of course my man's music (Andy Narell) but I love calypsos a lot (I've been playing lots of concerts with Relator).”

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

Anita B. - “I have to say that I was really disappointed this year in Trinidad for J'Ouvert morning. We were passing through empty streets, not any vendors, not anybody... almost scary! I was sad because I could remember the incredible and unique thrill I got from that night when I first came; I felt that the Pan was left in a ghetto, and J'Ouvert lost a lot of the magic that totally impressed me 20 years ago... J'Ouvert morning, following Pan trucks was an incredible experience and Trinidad is the only country that can do it at a strong and exclusive level. It is a shame not to realise and encourage that!”

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