Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

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Meet Danielle Edinboro of Brooklyn, New York

She says accent the positives. “We just all have to support each other and leave the jaded pessimist views alone and adopt an effective one.” 

Well mature beyond her years - Danielle Edinboro represents the next generation of panists in New York. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, Danielle Edinboro of Brooklyn, USA speaks on her introduction to the steelpan art form, the challenge and advancing forward.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about yourself.”

Danielle E. - “I’m a 21-year-old newbie to the pan community. I started playing pan in 2010 and joined CrossFire Steel Orchestra in 2011.”

WST - “Talk about your introduction to the steelpan instrument.”

Danielle E. - “I was attending St. Augustine’s Episcopal church and Fr. Steele, who was from Trinidad started a pan group in the church, and it was announced for interested parties to come the following Saturday. I came and I remember the instructor Mr. Thomas saying to just choose whatever pan speaks to us.  Of course at the time I didn’t know the names of each pan but I remember looking at the basses, cellos (they didn’t have double guitar) double seconds, and double tenor, feeling intimidated, and I saw this tenor and thought perfect! All the notes in one neat pan.”

Danielle Edinboro of CrossFire Steel Orchestra
Danielle Edinboro

WST - “What has made the steel pan instrument so attractive to you, what fuels your passion?”

Danielle E. - “I just love how hard it gets!  No matter which pan you are playing there will be a challenge waiting for you on that pan. And that challenge can vary for every individual. Whether a run is just too fast or the notes are just positioned too awkwardly or you can’t seem to make that one note fast enough due to spacing, it just goes on! So to conquer that challenge your pan presents you with, is the most phenomenal feeling there is. And with pan you’re just never done facing challenges. At least that’s what I believe, but I haven’t been playing that long.”

WST - “Does anyone else in your family play Pan?”

Danielle E. - “Nope.”  

WST - “As a woman in Pan, have you ever been discouraged from being involved in the art form?”

Danielle E. - “I can’t say I’ve been discouraged from being involved in the art form of pan. My good friend Arielle is a woman and she’s the sole captain of CrossFire and does a great job at it! Maybe I haven’t experienced anything of that nature because CrossFire is such a woman-friendly/encouraging band. I remember being told that it’s more natural for women to play pan in terms of wrist movements since we are more flexible in that way.”  

WST - “You are an integral part of New York’s CrossFire Steel Orchestra; in addition to being a musician, talk about your overall involvement with the orchestra.”

Danielle E. - “That’s a flattering thing to say! I love CrossFire with all my heart; it’s so much more than a steel pan band to me. As for “integral” we all have our roles and our love for the band mirrors our work ethic. Our manager Martin “Dougie” Douglas does a great job in molding us and steering us in the right direction!  Sadly, I’m away at school so I can’t be there to help as I used to.”  

Danielle Edinboro of CrossFire Steel Orchestra
Danielle Edinboro

WST - “What advice would you give to young girls and women who are part of New York’s present-day steel band community?”

Danielle E. - “My advice to the young girls and women who are part of New York’s present-day steel band community is to just remain focused and to aim higher. I feel we shouldn’t be content with just playing. I would love to see more aspiring and accomplished female arrangers.”  

WST - “You may have come across colleagues who did not understand what you mean when you say you ‘play pan’ - if this has ever been the case, talk about how you shared your steel band experiences, and their reactions.”

Danielle E. - “This has been the case numerous times and usually I’d just have to reword it as “steel drum” and give into the stereotypical “ping ping” response as confirmation they understand what I’m speaking of. I also use that opportunity to invite them to a CrossFire practice or any pan event that may be happening at the time.”  

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Danielle E. - “It’s a time to showcase what you got as a band. A friendly competition that heightens our drive as players/panists. The first day of Panorama practice to me is like a huge stretch after a nap or long car ride, because we are finally outside in an open space, just taking in the experience in its entirety. Last year was a very challenging year for me technique-wise as a player; our arranger Kendall Williams pushed us past our comfort zone and it was amazing! Looking forward to what he has developed for us this year.”  

Danielle Edinboro of CrossFire Steel Orchestra
Danielle Edinboro

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

Danielle E. - “The disunity and confusion. I hope that it can be realized that we are all in this together no matter what band we represent or play for. No matter who is the best or the worst officially and unofficially. As time progresses the face of pan is becoming - how do I say - not that of a Trini or any Caribbean person. I go to a school in Maryland where people have paid for steel pan concerts with performers who are Asian and Caucasian. And with the feedback given from those concerts - they aren’t getting the true core experience of pan as a viewer/listener.  Which is troubling for me.”  

WST - “If you could change one thing in the steelpan art form - overall - what would that be?”

Danielle E. - “That’s something I’d have to revisit.”  

WST - “Do you have any other observations/thoughts relative to the steelpan art form?”

Danielle E. - “I appreciate forums like this that dedicate time and manpower to keep a constant feed of what’s going on in the pan community, that isn’t necessarily accessible to us - without its presence mediating. Everyone from managers, to players, to writers, photographers, and board members all have an intrinsic part in pushing this movement forward. We just all have to support each other and leave the jaded pessimist views alone and adopt an effective one.”  

Danielle Edinboro of CrossFire Steel Orchestra
Danielle Edinboro

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