Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Andrea Edwards - Brooklyn, New York

“The music and the instrument itself, to me it's just different. Its versatility, its dynamics its effects - everything about it. It gives me a different feeling when I listen to it as opposed to listening to the radio. It takes my mind so many places musically.”

She is a scholar and a veteran panist in spite of her young age. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks -  Andrea Edwards shares her reflections, experiences and views on Pan, and the steelpan art form overall.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about Andrea Edwards?”

Andrea E. - “I am a 24 year-old college graduate with a degree in biology with a minor in psychology. I come from a family of Trinidadian decent with two brothers and two sisters. I have been competing in the pan setting since 2003, but I have playing since the second grade.”


WST - “When and how did you first become aware of the steelpan instrument?”

Andrea E. - “I first became aware of steel pan in my elementary school's after-school program, where Tony (from CASYM Steel Orchestra) was teaching the class.”


WST - “What does your family think about your involvement in Pan?”

Andrea E. - “My family are very proud to say myself and my sister take part in our nation's heritage, especially coming from a point where there were very few women who participated. They come to every Panorama, and my nephews - even in their young ages - grew an interest to learn and also support us.”


WST - “Do you believe women are finally getting that acknowledgment?”

Andrea E. - “I do think we are getting the acknowledgment we deserve. We have women who show they are just as talented as a man as a player, a band leader, an artist and an arranger. You see this through women of this generation such as Sade Constantine, Iman Pascall, and even the past band Women in Steel.”


WST - “How has playing pan changed for you over years?”

Andrea E. - “Comparing the pan how it was when I first started playing to now, I would say that there is a big difference in my opinion, not one exactly for the betterment of the instrument. For me major points took a turn in the community as a whole - like the vibes of the season, the commitment to a band/music, the support systems, discipline, the amount of bands, etc.”

Andrea Edwards
Andrea Edwards

WST - “Who is your favorite arranger and why?”

Andrea E. - “I would have to say my favorite arranger is Clive Bradley.”


WST - “What is your favorite Pan piece?”

Andrea E. - “It's hard not to be biased because Pan Sonatas definitely did have some great hits and I really want to say Bandoleros arranged by [Yohan] Popwell, but I'm going to acknowledge other arrangements that always get me excited; Ben Lion - Pantonic, High Mas - Nu Tones and Music In We Blood- Phase II.”


WST - “When you are not listening to pan music what are you listening to?”

Andrea E. - “I'm always listening to soca, it gives me an adrenaline rush similar to pan music. Besides that I like azonto, R&B, hip hop and reggae.”


WST - “What is the greatest challenge facing this current generation of steelpan musicians from your perspective?”

Andrea E. - “Getting adequate, honest, loyal support from the pan community and the community as a whole. That includes practice time, space, people to come out and give the dedication, and people respecting the culture to where they help uplift it.”


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

Andrea E. - “The music and the instrument itself, to me - it's just different. Its versatility, its dynamics, its effects - everything about it. It gives me a different feeling when I listen to it, as opposed to listening to the radio. It takes my mind so many places musically.”


WST - “What is you most memorable experience in Pan?”

Andrea E. - “My most memorable moment would have to be the entire 2007 Panorama season with Pan Sonatas, from day one of practice to my first win on stage, into J'Ouvert.”


WST - “Do you play any other instruments?”

Andrea E. - “I am not a master of any of other instrument but I have been making an effort to learn how to play the drums and piano.”


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

Andrea E. - “I would have to say I would change the pan community first and foremost because change starts with self first to be effective. This way we can get stronger advocates for the instrument and eventually push for more support from the communities.”


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

Andrea E. - “The exposure and recognition it receives and people hardly notice. When you listen to some common music such as hip hop and R&B, you hear the use of the instrument and sometimes you see it in the video. Also the request for a band to play at functions on various levels and occasions.”


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

Andrea E. - “The lack of unity as a community. There's not enough respect between bands to help encourage their milestones as opposed to helping tear them down.”

Andrea Edwards
Andrea Edwards

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Andrea E. - “To me Panorama is the highlight of the season, where bands can have friendly competition where they show off their hard work they put in year-around, and keep the spirit of tradition alive.”


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

Andrea E. - “I think Panorama is like a catch 22 when it comes to being a blessing or a curse. For one it brings people out to represent their band, pay homage to the culture and most importantly enjoy themselves. But when the results come it's rarely any positive energy or responses that come from it. The type of animosity that arises and the tearing down of a band's hard work - rather than encouragement and accolades.”


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

Andrea E. - “I want steel pan to be as known and respected in every country, city, state, island, etc., in the world - as it is in Trinidad.”


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

Andrea E. - “I honestly just want to see the community do better, get pan back to how it used to be when I first started competing, and better.”


Andrea Edwards performing with Sonatas Steel Orchestra





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