Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

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Meet Miranda Martin - Trinidad & Tobago

“I have been most proud of the lives I have touched throughout the years playing pan. It is a blessing to be able to meet, greet and teach persons whether they are young or old, the introduction of the steelpan and the discipline it entails.”

Miranda has traveled the world over as a member of the legendary Desperadoes Steel Orchestra. She embodies all the characteristics of a great panist - talent, intellect, discipline, and sacrifice. She is most proud of the lives she has touched through her years of playing pan. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, Miranda Martin of Trinidad and Tobago shares how the steelpan instrument has impacted her life.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Who is Miranda Martin and how and when did you first become involved with pan?”

Miranda M. - “Miranda Martin is a mother, a secretary, a hairdresser and a steelpan six bass player who attended the Morvant Laventille Secondary School, where I was first introduced to the steelpan by my classmate in the year 1992, under the watchful eyes of Mr. Roland Gordon (deceased) and our arranger at the time, Mr. Curtis Edwards.”

WST - “What made you fall in love with the steelpan instrument and its music?”

Miranda M. - “To be honest, I was never a lover of pan. I disliked it with a passion, so much so that whenever I heard it on the radio or saw it on the television I would immediately change the station/channel, or sometimes take it off completely, because I always considered it to be a lot of noise. That is, until my first experience playing the instrument. After which, I was able to understand and appreciate the blessing it was.  I fell in love with the arrangement of Mr. Curtis Edwards’ ‘Party Now Start’ that was sung by Crazy, and not forgetting the amazing arrangement that was also done by Mr. Edwards of ‘Dus in Yuh Face’ sung by Mr. David Rudder which made Morvant Laventille Secondary School win the Junior Panorama Championship title for that year.”  

WST - “You are a valued member of the legendary Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and you have been a member of their stage side. Tell us about some of your travel through pan.”

Miranda M. - “Being a member of the stage side gave me a lot of opportunities to meet different people and also travel to countries that I would have only imagined going to. Places I have travelled to thus far through pan, being a stage side member of Desperadoes are the USA (Washington, Philadelphia), Switzerland, South Korea, Beijing, Mumbai, New Delhi, Nigeria and the Caribbean Islands; St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Grenada.  My first travel through pan was with Morvant Laventille Secondary school when we visited France for a world festival in 1993.”  

WST - “Desperadoes is one of the world’s music gems. What is it that makes Desperadoes so special to you?”

Miranda Martin
Miranda Martin -
photo by Hueloy Lila Yip Young

Miranda M. - “What makes Desperadoes so special to me is the type of music that the band plays and the arrangement of music that is given by the arranger, which challenges your skill for betterment. It pushes you to a new level. When you can play and execute to perfection songs like ‘Musical Volcano,’ ‘Party Tonight’ along with classical pieces like ‘Battered Bride’ (which I am still longing to play) it is only then you can see your improvement of skill.

“Another thing that really inspires me is the fact that we put aside all differences to get things done and we always rise above the occasion by the grace of God. It still amazes me all the accomplishments that we have made.”  

WST - “You are truly a practitioner of the performing arts, musician, and a member of management. Do you have a preference?”

Miranda M. - “No I don’t have a preference.  While it is a blessing to be able to play such a beautiful instrument, there is a sense of fulfillment when you are able to bring forth ideas and help implement these ideas that would enhance both the band and the Laventille community.”  

WST - “Is the support for the steelpan to your liking in Trinidad and Tobago?”

Miranda M. - “No.  I think much more can be done to enhance the artform, especially since it is our national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.”  

WST - “What is your vision for pan in Trinidad and Tobago a decade from now?”

Miranda M. - “My vision for pan a next decade from now is to see more youth involvement, and support by both the government and the private sector.  I would like to see pan musicians be treated with the same respect, courtesy and appreciation as musicians of other genres in the music industry.”  

WST - “If you could change one thing about the instrument, what would it be?”

Miranda M. - “If I could change one thing about the instrument, I think that would be the way it is taught in schools.  I believe that both the history of the instruments and its pioneers, along with the practical and the music theory should be taught at early stages in the schools. Given the modern world we are now living in, whereby technology is being used, we should have DVDs made available to schools on how to make and tune the different instruments.  This would provide proper documentation of skillful tactics, in terms of making and tuning of instruments. It would also ensure that the knowledge of the steelpan would not be lost with the elders and the culture of the steelpan would live on from generation to generation.”  

WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to pan?”

Miranda M. - “I have been most proud of the lives I have touched throughout the years playing pan.  It is a blessing to be able to meet, greet and teach persons whether they are young or old, the introduction of the steelpan and the discipline it entails.”  

WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelpan movement?”

Miranda M. - “What disappoints me the most in the steelpan movement is the lack of respect and support that is shown towards our national instrument and our pan musicians by the powers that be.  One must understand and appreciate the hard work and the sacrifices made by pan men/women throughout the year, especially for the Carnival season, because of the love players have for the steelpan instrument and our culture.”  

WST - “What fuels your passion for pan?”

Miranda M. - “I think what fuels my passion for pan is the love of God, for music is a spiritual thing.  It must be executed soulfully.  I also love the challenge of learning and improving my skill.”  

WST - “Who and what are your musical influences?”

Miranda M. - “My musical influences apart from God, I am blessed to have many. There are people who have really inspired me and helped give me the musical discipline that was needed to become who I am today eg. Mr. Roland Gordon (deceased), Mr. Curtis Edwards, Mr. Robert Greenidge, Mr. Clive Bradley (deceased), Mr. Anthony McQuilkin and Cedeno who are both players and last but not least our late Ms. Pat Bishop.  All these people I have learnt a lot from, some more than others.  Without their encouragement and challenges I would not have been able to learn and develop to this stage musically.  I am thankful to God and them for their support.”  

WST - “What advice would you give the young and upcoming females who would like to follow in your footsteps?”

Miranda M. - “My advice to the younger ones whether male or female is to put God first in all that you do, for without him we are like the dust blowing in different directions.  To love what you do with all sincerity and apply the discipline that is needed to elevate yourself.  Music is not only about how much money you make, it’s about heart.  And last but not least do not say you CAN’T do something or play something, because by doing so you automatically tell your brain to not function at its best. Practice... practice... practice and at some point you would get it right.  Prayer and determination are valuable keys towards success.”  

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Miranda M. - “Panorama to me is one of the most beautiful and exciting things that a person can experience. Being able to showcase your talent amongst hundreds of people, watching the spectators’ reaction towards the bands’ arrangement and feeling their vibes - is nothing but amazing.”  

WST - “What is your vision for the instrument?”

Miranda M. - “My vision for the instrument is to see it being used on a worldwide scale towards major youth development.  I would also like to see the standardization of our national instrument throughout the world.  This would help eliminate bands’ cost for shipping instruments when traveling to another country.  I would also like to see our country, being the maker of the steelpan, host world festivals/panoramas. This would only develop our players and arrangers in a positive way.  It would also allow other countries to share our experience and unite many.”

   Miranda Martin performing with Desperadoes Steel Orchestra

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