Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Cherylee Goddard-Legair - Trinidad & Tobago

“For me, to play something that came about from a simple oil drum, but fascinates people around the world, is amazing.”  She is an intellectual - multi-talented, thoughtful, forward-thinking beyond her years...  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks -  panist, musician, budding photographer, future lawyer and performing artist Cherylee Goddard-Legair shares her reflections, experiences and views on Pan, and the steelpan art form.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about  Cherylee Goddard-Legair?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “Well, I’m the average Trinbagonian who grew up in Laventille with a love for music and pan, especially, with living opposite Tokyo Steel Orchestra’s panyard. Coming from a family filled with musicians on both sides - from panists to vocalists or pianists, it seems that everyone just ended up learning one instrument or the other and I was no exception. I enjoy anything relating to the arts - from literary works to photography/cinematography.”

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

Cherylee G.-L. “When I was about 5 or 6, a family friend, who played with Tokyo at the time, took two friends, a relative and myself across the road to the panyard to simply get us involved.

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “Well, first and foremost it is the national instrument, and the fact that it ultimately has its own tone and sound is captivating. For me, to play something that came about from a simple oil drum, but fascinates people around the world, is amazing.”

Cherylee Goddard-Legair
Cherylee Goddard-Legair

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “The fact that I can use music to express exactly what I’m feeling whether I’m happy or sad, or slightly mischievous with a bit of mystery on the side, keeps me passionate about it. The control I have over the dynamics I would use on the pan also fuels the love for it. It can do almost anything from soca and calypso to a classical piece originally composed for strings.”

WST - “We read where you said that your music is your life. Do you intend to make music a career?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “I do not intend to make music my main career choice; I’m actually going to pursue my law degree with the intention of eventually becoming a lawyer.”

WST - “What type of music do you listen to when you’re not listening to pan music?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “I generally listen to all genres but I have an undeniable love and appreciation for jazz (and the different types of fusions) as well as classical music.”

WST - “Do you play any other instruments?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “I do play other instruments including piano and I’m attempting to teach myself clarinet, and currently getting assistance with the guitar from a friend. I also dabbled in Latin percussion - mainly timbales and bongos.

WST - “Do you have a favorite arranger?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “My favourite arranger of all time is the late Clive Bradley hands down. I am also a fan of arrangements done by Beverly Griffith as well as Ray Holman.”

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “My family wholeheartedly supports my involvement in pan, most of them can play, or have held a managerial position in a steelband at one point of time; they encourage all of us to become active in pan even if it’s for a short period of time.”

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “One thing I would immediately change or rather re-implement are the other competitions outside of panorama such as a well-organised Pan In The 21st Century and Pan Is Beautiful. Right now, the only “big pan competition” is Panorama which makes it seem like a seasonal thing in its home country when it shouldn’t be.”

WST - “In 2016 you played with Desperadoes and won a championship - how was that experience?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “In one word - Fulfilling. Desperadoes is a legendary band and growing up in Laventille, they were usually the talk of the town.”

WST - “You played the legendary ‘rocket pan’ and earned the respect of the pan community all over the world. How was that like? How did you end up on that pan? Is it the most difficult pan you’ve played?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “The attention gained from playing the rocket pan was overwhelming because I didn’t expect the video to have that big of an impact. Playing the pan itself was an enjoyable experience. A friend who plays with Desperadoes actually invited me to play with the band, but knowing that I am one that loves a challenge, said there is no other pan I should play except that particular pan. For the first couple of days, it was difficult but I changed my way of thinking to interpret it my own way, and it became easier to understand and in turn easier to play. It remained the most physically demanding pan I’ve ever played though.”

Rocket pan with Cherylee Goddard-Legair
Cherylee Goddard-Legair with the Six Pan / Rocket Pan - Panorama Finals 2016 - Trinidad
self-photo by and © Cherylee Goddard-Legair

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “The fact that I accomplished my goal of playing in all sections of the modern day conventional steel orchestra with ease is definitely something I’m proud about but also having the opportunity to play music from a number of legendary arrangers, such as Clive Bradley, Beverly Griffith as well as Gerard “Belly” Charles is unbelievable for me.”

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “My musical influences include but are not limited to Miles Davis, Frantz Laurac of the Frantz Laurac Quartet, The Jacksons/Michael Jackson, and well-known arranger/composer Ray Holman.”

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “While I do have many memorable experiences with the most recent being playing the rocket pan with Desperadoes, the one that stands out is playing in the 2005 panorama finals with Tokyo Steel Orchestra. We played a Beverly Griffith-arrangement of Onika Bostic’s “All Is Yours.” That was my first final night panorama performance with the band that I initially started to play pan with.”

WST - “What would you say to encourage more women who want to follow in your footsteps?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “I would simply say “Never be afraid to challenge yourself. Work on your weaknesses and develop your strengths, you can only get better with practice.””

WST - “Do you have any female steelpan icons?”

Cherylee G.-L. - “Yes, my female steelpan icons are Ursula Tudor, Mia Gormandy and Natasha Joseph.”

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “In five years, I see myself with my first degree in law, hopefully successful in completing the LPC and working my way up the ladder in a law firm in England while still playing the pan recreationally with my trio ‘The Class Project’.”

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

Cherylee G.-L. - “I’d just like to stress the importance that in order for a band to succeed, there needs to be a good relationship between management, the arranger and the drill master/musical director if one is involved. as well as the players.”

Cherylee Goddard-Legair - Semi Finals Desperadoes
Cherylee Goddard-Legair with the Six Pan / Rocket Pan - Panorama Semi-Finals 2016 -
Desperadoes Steel Orchestra - Trinidad
self-photo by and © Cherylee Goddard-Legair


Desperadoes Different me....

Posted by Hueloy Yip Young on Sunday, February 7, 2016

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

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