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Tribute To Women In Pan

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Meet Carrisa Victor - Trinidad and Tobago

This multi-talented panist is immensely gifted, intelligent and ready to take the art form to a higher level.  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - composer, musician and performing artist Carrisa Victor shares her views, experiences on and expectations for, the steelpan art form and more.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about Carrisa Victor?”

Carrisa V. - “I am Carrisa Victor the last of six children, raised by a single mother. I’m from Arima, Trinidad, Olton Rd to be exact. I am 25 years of age and is the proud mother of a son Darion. I take pride in providing for him and giving him the best life possible. I want what’s best, and what works best for myself and my son.”

WST - “What were your earliest experiences with Pan?”

Carrisa V. “My earliest experience with pan was while attending primary school. My sister, who was at that time, the treasurer and a player at the Arima Angel Harps, took me to the pan yard with her on several occasions. My mom however, did not approve of this, therefore I had to play pan in my mind. This was probably at the eight.”

WST - “What keeps your passion for the instrument, the music and going?”

Carrisa V. - “My deep love for the pan and the amazingly talented people I have met along the way keeps me alive. I love performing, teaching, directing and organizing. Therefore I love and have a passion for everything there is to pan.”

Carrisa Victor
Carrisa Victor

WST - “What are the goals of your performing arts company?”

Carrisa V. - “It is through my desire to affect the life of young people through the arts, that I collaborated with the Minister of Arts and the Member of Parliament for Lopinot Bon Air West, the Honourable Dr. H. Lincoln Douglas. Together we have started the S.P.O.R.S. Performing Company. Its goal is to uplift young people through the use of the arts and cultural expression via our structured training programs. The Company is also to inspire growth of a cultural self and to present opportunities for self-sufficiency.”

WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female panists all over the world who dream of following in footsteps such as yours?”

Carrisa V. - “I would advise that they put the Creator first, believe and have faith in God and themselves. Work hard, hard work always brings success. Plan and organize your life and have a goal. Nothing comes before its time, and experiences make you who you are, so learn from your experiences.”

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

Carrisa V. - “One of my earliest musical influences was the singer Selena for basically everything she did (performance, voice, etc). Other artists who I admire are Mighty Sparrow, the late Lord Kitchener, Singing Sandra and also Dr. Douglas, he is a drummer and poet and someone from our community. In the steelpan industry I must mention Mr. Len “Boogsie” Sharpe for his eccentric means of expression and talent that has captured my musical interest. Two other people who work with me closely in my musical development are Sasha Amora and Triston Marcano.  Both have helped me enhance my theory and practical skills, and are basically my teachers. I got distinctions in Grades 1-3 in music theory from the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM), and also completed a Certificate in Music at the Joshua Christian Secondary. I am now furthering myself in English, Math, Business and Business Administration.”

WST - “What are the thoughts of friends and family regarding your involvement with Pan?”

Carrisa V. - “So far, my friends and family are proud of my achievements within the pan realm. It has  taken me to various bands throughout T&T and abroad. I have performed in; St Maarten (Dutch), St. Vincent, Grenada, Guyana and New York. It has also helped me to provide additional support to my family.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Carrisa V. - “I love Panorama because I meet lots of talented people both young and old from T&T and as far as Europe, Japan, Nigeria etc. It is a great overall experience every year.”

WST - “Is Panorama a curse or blessing from your perspective?”

Carrisa V. - “Panorama is definitely a blessing. Pan is a gift from God. It’s a creation that God gave to Trinbagonians. So here we have created a mecca of pan, a spectacular place for the world to visit.”

WST - “You visited New York in 2014 and participated in the Panorama competition, performing with CrossFire Steel Orchestra.  How did this all come about?  Talk about your overall New York Panorama experience.”

Carrisa V. - “Barry Mannette invited me to St. Vincent to compete in their National Panorama competition with the South East Steel Orchestra which placed 2nd. I met Emily Lemmerman who also played in the previous mentioned band. The topic of my interest in attending the New York Panorama competition surfaced during our conversation. Emily then made a call to Mr. Martin Douglas, the manager of the Crossfire Steel Orchestra and he expressed his interest in having me play. By August of 2014 I was booked for a flight to perform with Crossfire for the Panorama.

WST - “From your perspective and experiences, what are your thoughts about the New York Panorama in comparison with the Trinidad & Tobago National Panorama?”

Carrisa V. - “It was my first visit to the US, and the first experience I had was the cold air beating against my face. It was cold!!  I then got the opportunity to observe the different styles of other musicians and to attend the band launch for the New York Panorama. I also taught kids and met with other Trinidadian nationals which made me feel right at home.

The nightlife wasn’t what I expected it to be but I enjoyed my stay regardless. The New York Panorama, though exciting, leaves a bit more to be desired when coming to its popularity. However, the arrangers of all 11 bands which competed in one round expressed their ideas not much differently to authentic Trinidadian bands.”

WST - “What is the greatest challenge the steelpan music art form faces in Trinidad & Tobago today?”

Carrisa V. - “One of the greatest challenges is the segregation among panists within Trinidad where instead of bonding to create a thriving pan industry regionally and internationally and being their brother’s keepers, they fight and try to bring each other down, not having respect for a brother’s/sister’s skill and talents.”

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

Carrisa V. - “The National pan organization should work harder at proper leadership, taking responsibility for the advancement of the steelband agenda, and should take more interest in the affairs of panists.”

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

Carrisa V. - “I’m proud of the new-found recognition and interest that the international market is taking in the steel drum, whereas more tourist and nationals alike would like  to learn and perform using the steel pan (steel drum). However in my personal life, I am proud to be Trinbagonian simply because of our music, culture and national instrument. I am proud of my personal success as a panist, where it has taken me and through different walks of life.”

Carrisa Victor in 2020 as member of in 2020 Panorama champions Desperadoes Steel Orchestra
Carrisa Victor in 2020, as a member of 2020 Panorama champions Desperadoes Steel Orchestra - (photo: Facebook)

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

Carrisa V. - “What pains me the most is the way in which panists in Trinidad deal with each other and their craft whereas outside of Trinidad and Tobago I’ve seen foreigners show more love for their fellow panist and for the love of the pan itself.”

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

Carrisa V. - “My vision for the steel drum is to have it being used as a household name and a standard band instrument. I would also like to see business persons of Trinidad and Tobago get more involved in the movement of pan.”

WST - “Where will Carrisa Victor be ten years from now?”

Carrisa V. - “In the next ten years I see myself owning a live performing band, writing calypso compositions, being a greater mother to my son than I am now and having my own home all due to God’s willing.”

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

Carrisa V. - “Yes. Since Pan Trinbago is providing a cheque and the bands are paying for performance, I personally think written contracts should be done instead of verbal agreements between the bands and their respective players.”

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