Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Cassie Marie Bradley - Chicago, Illinois

“I would advise other female panists to GO FOR IT!!! The instrument is awesome and my only regret has been at times when I would start and stop playing/arranging because I doubted myself.”

She is currently working on her MBA - and yes, Pan is her passion.  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - professional musician, performing artist, composer, arranger and actress Cassie Marie Bradley 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 Cassie Marie Bradley?”

Cassie Marie B. - “I am a professional musician, based out of the south side of Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been playing instruments for 18 years; Pan for 10 years. I eventually would like to have my own gospel album (non-traditional gospel with fused genres). Growing up - if I wasn’t going to some type of sports practice (basketball, swimming, etc.), I was in band arranging music for homecoming or performing someplace. It has been a dream come true to be able to combine both passions as I performed the National Anthem for my favorite team, The Chicago Bulls, as well as the Atlanta Hawks. I hope to continue and improve upon these routes to show future generations they can make career out of both.”

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

Cassie Marie B. “I first heard the Steel Pan in college at Northern Illinois University. I was amazed by the beautiful sound coming from the concert hall at school one day which piqued my interest in discovering what instrument produced the sound. Since then I’ve possessed a huge passion for the instrument; studying and performing with the goal of giving others the feeling I felt. Initially steel pan was not my primary instrument, clarinet was. However, it became my primary instrument about 1 ½ years after being introduced to it.”

WST - “You have studied music at Northern Illinois University and performed with the institution's steelband; was steelpan your primary instrument? Talk a bit about your time as a musician with the Northern Illinois University Steel Band.”

Cassie Marie B. - “I loved being a member of the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Steel Band.  I finished my Bachelors Degree, switching from clarinet as my primary instrument to steel pan. I then went on to obtain my performance certificate, Master’s of Science in Sport Management, and am currently in pursuit of my Master of Business of Administration.  I began playing pan as part of the NIU All-University Steel Band. Once pan became my primary instrument, I became a member of the World Steel Band where I had the opportunity to perform alongside panists such as Mia Gormandy, Jonathan Scales, Victor Provost, Andy Narell, Leon “Foster” Thomas, and many others from around the world.  I learned much about the techniques and culture of pan under the direction of Liam Teague and Cliff Alexis.”

WST - “Composing and arranging are also focal points in your music career - give some insight into these aspects?”

Cassie Marie B. - “I believe that composing and arranging will become a huge part of my craft (majority) as time progresses. It allows listeners to experience instruments and combinations they’ve never heard; which I believe is critical for steel pan to become even more successful around the world.  I’ve been arranging since high school marching band. However, I now feel comfortable with releasing those arrangements in the near future.  I would love to replace traditional sounds (American) with that of pan, to provide an even more beautiful sound, while educating people of the endless possibilities with pan.”

Cassie Marie Bradley
Cassie Marie Bradley

WST - “What type of music do you listen to when you're not listening to pan music, and do you play any other instruments?”

Cassie Marie B. - “When I am not playing or listening to pan I listen to many different genres: Hip Hop, Rock, Pop, even jazz and classical. I usually take aspects from these genres and combine them when composing my own music.  Lately Beyoncé has been getting me through my workouts...  LOL”

WST - “You have made steelpan music your career. What would be your advice to the thousands of young female panists all over the world who are considering becoming involved with the steelpan instrument as a career move?”

Cassie Marie B. - “I would advise other female panists to GO FOR IT!!! The instrument is awesome and my only regret has been at times when I would start and stop playing/arranging because I doubted myself. I worried about if others would receive pan well, and overall, too much about what other people thought. I now think to myself how much farther along I could be at times. The point is that when God wants you to do something he places it in your heart. If you are ever worried about something, go with your heart (what He told you to do), and He will work out everything else.”

WST - “What is it about the steelpan that has so captured your fancy?”

Cassie Marie B. - “The sound of the pan is what captured me. It is so gorgeous and even more captivating in its resonance.”

WST - “What does your family think about your involvement in the steelband art form?”

Cassie Marie B. - “My family supports my involvement with pan. They would attend as many of my performances as they could. I have a distant relative from Trinidad and Tobago who also taught me about the culture of pan, even showing me a few pans dated back to 1969.”

WST - “You have performed, along with Obe Quarless, the US anthem on pan, at the opening of high-profile basketball games. How did this come about, and what is that experience like?”

Cassie Marie B. - “The Bulls decided to have a Caribbean-themed game entitled “Island Escape Night.”  I was contacted by the organization from someone who knew I played pan. They asked if I knew of a steel band who would be able to perform, and I showed them a demo of my band. They enjoyed the performance and booked us. The Atlanta Hawks saw our performance at the Bulls game, and with the help of a sponsor, Obe and I were able to perform for them as well. The experiences were amazing and well received. It gave me an adrenaline rush, as I performed for more than 21,000 people, and I hope to be able to do similar performances in the future. Overall I give all the credit to God, as these opportunities have truly been a blessing.”

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

Cassie Marie B. - “Michael Jackson is my favorite performer of all time. I plan on incorporating a lot of his style in future compositions/arrangements. I like to fuse genres together, as they seem to unite many audiences. Other influences include Duke Ellington, Beyoncé, Liam Teague, Andy Akiho, and Lecrae.”

WST - “Describe your most memorable steelpan musical experience?”

Cassie Marie Bradley
Cassie Marie Bradley

Cassie Marie B. - “My most memorable steel pan experience would have to be both the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks games. The audience in both cases received the performances well, and were a huge inspiration for me to keep pressing forward in my career as a musician.”

“Though I have yet to perform pan in front of a television audience, I believe that will be one of my next steps, as I am aiming to combine the two in the near future.”

WST - “Have you encountered people unfamiliar with Pan when you perform, and what is that interaction like?”

Cassie Marie B. - “I have encountered many people unfamiliar with pan. Many non-musicians that I’ve interacted with believed that pan can only play Caribbean music, or have never heard of it. However, they usually become enlightened and are often very intrigued by its sound, as I was my first time hearing it. The interaction is humbling as I myself was once not educated in pan. I do my best to properly inform them of its origin, capabilities, and other facts.”

WST - “Have you ever played in Panorama?”

Cassie Marie B. - “I have never participated in Panorama, however I hope to visit the “Mecca of Pan” (Trinidad and Tobago) one day to perform and fully experience its beautiful culture. As for now I love watching the performances via internet and DVD.”

WST - “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Cassie Marie B. - “In five years I see myself as a world-renowned performer, composer, and actor, with a non-profit organization that gives to communities and different causes. I hope to positively inspire the world with my music and acting performances.”

Cassie Bradley performing the National Anthem on Steel Pan at the Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat game

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