Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


Follow When Steel Talks
WST google search WST Forum WST facebook page WST on Twitter WST RSS feed WST Steelpan music videos on You Tube WST Newsletter Global Steelband listings

  Bookmark and Share

Meet Janyssa Humphreys - Antigua & Barbuda

In regards to Pan: "We have so much potential to take our steel pan movement to another level”.  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, Janyssa Humphreys of Antigua and Barbuda shares her love for the steelpan art form and how the steelpan music culture has impacted her life.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive


WST - “When and how did you first become associated with the steelpan instrument?”

Janyssa H. - “I was around 12 years old I first became involved in steel pan. I have always been attracted to music, it's my first love, any instrument I could find someone to teach my how to play I was present please, so when my church was recruiting members for a steel band naturally I was up front and center.”

WST - “Tell us about being a woman player Antigua?”

Janyssa H. “It's interesting and like all things has it's up and downs. The pan fraternity is made up persons across the social diaspora so discussions about anything from steelband to politics or even finance matters garner a wide range of opinions it makes, life interesting. On the flip side if you want to examine how far we've progressed based on gender roles then it's a good place to start a survey. In my opinion and personal experience steel pan is still being dominated by the males. There is not a strong female presence and even on the executive boards women relegated to more 'gender suited' roles than the men for example Secretary or Treasurer where as the males are the Captains and Band Managers even PRO's. ”

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

Janyssa H. - “I love music and I love my culture and steel pan allows me to express both, it's as simple as that.”

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

Janyssa H. - “I would change the way it's taught in schools. Currently in Antigua steel pan is a past time. I believe that I'd make a part of the regular school activities. Then we could reach so much further. ”

Janyssa Humphreys
Janyssa Humphreys

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

Janyssa H. - “It gives me a sense of pride to see the growth in supporters that pan has garnered over the last decade - especially amongst the youths who are surrounded by so many negative things in society. It's good to see them gravitate toward something positive, yet cultural at the same time, it provides hope that our culture will continue after the have elders have gone on.”

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

Janyssa H. - “We have so much potential to take our steel pan movement to another level, to make a sound business venture, to market our music as an attraction to visitors and to develop a thriving industry. Yet we down play the value that steel pan brings to our community and our country in a whole.”

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

Janyssa H. - “If music is what you love, if pan is what you love don't let anyone deter you from it. It's a great avenue for personal growth. I've travelled to many countries as a music ambassador for my country and I owe it all to pan. No matter what anyone says, if pan or even music on a whole is what you want in your life, then pursue it. What may not be for others may just what makes you exactly who you should be.”

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

Janyssa H. - “I am a lover of all types of music, but my favorites include Jazz, R&B, Classical and of course Soca - artists like Anita Baker, Lionel Richie, Enya and, strangely enough, classical composers Beethoven, Mozart and Stravinsky will get me moving at anytime. And of course, I love my own local writers William Lewis and Marxus Christopher. There's just so much music out there. Over the years I've learnt to appreciate everyone's style of writing. It may not be what I prefer, but it's what the person feels, it is their expression.

One of my musical influences would have to be my uncle M'Tallewah Thomas. Although he's a bass player I remember always wanting to be around him,  always trying to sneak into his studio when I was younger. Even now as an older person I still look to him for guidance. To have a family member involved in what I love is a great force of influence in my life personally and musically.

WST - “What is Panorama to you? ”

Janyssa H. - “Panorama is just an exhibition in my opinion. It's where the the bands bring their best - where they bring the heat. And win or lose, in my opinion at the end of the day everyone should be pleased with themselves knowing they put their best on stage and gave it their all.”

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

Janyssa H. - “So much strife amongst bands is caused over the results of the Panorama - too much in fighting which I believe contributes to the stunted growth of steel pan here. Instead of one united movement we seem to become even more divided with each passing competition. And even though a fresh crop of players spring up every year, like a legacy the rivalry is passed on through the generation of players. It's time we have another avenue for showcasing our steel orchestras other than panorama that will foster relationships rather than tear them down. ”

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

Janyssa H. - “In the future I would love to see a united steel band movement in Antigua. I would love to see continuous exposure both locally and overseas -not just at carnival and Independence when it's presence is prevalent but all year round. We need to be in the public's face 24/7 reminding them that this is our culture and although we embrace the cultures of others, we must hold steadfast to ours before we lose it. It would please me if every single school on island had a functioning steel orchestra. ”

Their Story, Their Voice, Their Life, Their Dreams - click for more stories

Leave a comment in the WST forum