Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

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Meet Danielle Gamory - Brooklyn, New York

“....It’s not noise, it’s music. Bring a chair, sit down and listen; trust and believe you’re gonna enjoy it. You might even jump up out of your chair and start dancing - or come back the next night and try to learn music.” 

She is enthusiastic about pan, and an optimist...  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks -  panist and  future educator Danielle Gamory shares her experiences, views on and love for, Pan and the steelpan art form.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

When Steel Talks ‘Celebration of Women in Pan’ logo

WST - “Tell us about Danielle Gamory?”

Danielle G. - “Im 19 years old, currently enrolled at La Guardia Community College as of right now (because I tend to change my major a lot). I’m studying deaf studies and with that I really would like to teach deaf students.”

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

Danielle G. “I feel like as soon as I was able to walk and talk - that’s when I was introduced. Being that my grandmother owns Pantonic, that was the topic of every conversation when I visited her.”

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

Danielle G. - “Ms. Carol. I never told anyone this, but she’s the reason I started. When I was younger I did not like pan at all. I never really got to hang out with my grandmother because she was at the pan yard all the time. So in order for me to see her I had to follow my brother and father to the yard which I didn’t like either because of all the mosquitoes. From what I remember, I believe I always slept on Ms. Carol’s lap, and one night she was like “Go play a pan; I wanna see you behind a guitar.” I did get behind a pan (not that night, years later) but it was a tenor bass.”

Danielle Gamory
Danielle Gamory

WST - “What do you like about playing the bass pan?”

Danielle G. - “You normally don’t see that much women on bass. From the moment I started, everyone wanted me to switch and play guitar. They said ‘bass is more for men’ and it would be difficult for me because of my short arms - but I wanted to prove them wrong. I LOVE bass. That’s my baby. I honestly don’t see myself switching no time soon. I can’t explain it, but playing bass just makes me happy; I feel something with bass that I cant feel with another pan.”

WST - “What is the greatest challenge facing this current generation of steelpan musicians in Pan?”

Danielle Gamory
Danielle Gamory

Danielle G. - “Definitely finding a place to practice. If you do find something, they’re asking for way too much money; or you found something in a neighborhood, and gotta negotiate time with the people living in the area.”

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

Danielle G. - “It was one night I came late to practice and our old arranger Keith Roberts was teaching us a song. He gave the bass players a really difficult phrasing that they couldn’t get it. So he was like “I’m gonna play it on the piano, and then you guys play it after me.” So he played it, and he had to count us in; but me, of course, didn’t wait, and I played the right phrasing that they couldn’t get. Mind you I did show up an hour late and Keith turned to me and was like “Wow, you showed up late and caught the right phrasing just like that. You have good ears.” I don’t know; for some reason I just won’t ever forget that.”

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

Danielle G. - “I’m proud of the band that was formed last year, I believe called “BSO” [Brooklyn Steel Orchestra], because I felt like years before (this is just my opinion) that bands never really got along. It was either their band, or no band at all. But when BSO was formed and they took a certain amount of players from each band and created it, everyone just ‘clicked,’ got along, and put their differences aside. And now I feel like because of that, now all bands move as one.”

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

Danielle G. - “A lot of people don’t know what it [pan] is... Before my friends knew, they used to ask me “What’s that? You play with pots?” And what disappoints me the most is that most people could care less; it’s more of a noise then music to them.”

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

Danielle G. - “People’s perspective of it. It’s not noise, it’s music. Bring a chair, sit down and listen; trust and believe you’re gonna enjoy it. You might even jump up out of your chair and start dancing - or come back the next night and try to learn music.”

WST - “Do you have a favorite arranger?”

Danielle G. - “Keith Roberts. I never really dealt with another arranger and I feel like all the years I spent with Keith, he’s basically family - so why not make him my favorite.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Danielle G. - “I look forward to Panorama every year - never missed one. Even when I wasn’t playing pan I still had a uniform. I miss the years when any and everyone could be on stage, and when they had video recordings. Those years were the best. I don’t feel like it’s a competition any more. We still care about what we come, but I don’t think that bothers anyone anymore. They would go up to the other bands and be like “You was robbed, you guys did a fantastic job!” “In my eyes you guys came first!” “Judges don’t know how to judge!”

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

Danielle G. - “Blessing. Panorama can never be a curse, even though some of my fellow pan mates say it’s a curse for Pantonic because 7th place has our name written on it. I never felt like it was.”

Danielle Gamory
Danielle Gamory

WST - “What type of music do you listen to outside of Pan?”

Danielle G. - “Soca, Soca and more Soca, LOL. Ask all my friends; when you step into my car, the first thing you hear is Soca.”

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

Danielle G. - “I see steelpan taking over the world. It was already at a basketball game playing the national anthem and almost every country plays it, so it’s just a matter of time before you see or hear it in major films or TV commercials.”

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

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