Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Fatima Wilson - Montréal, Canada

“Growing up, most little girls would spend their time playing with dolls, throwing a tea party with their teddy bears etc. I on the other hand was given a pair of pan sticks… thank you Dad!....”

Multitalented, focused, thoughtful and committed. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - panist, manager, performing artist, and educator Fatima Wilson shares her reflections, and views on Pan, and the steelpan art form overall.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about Fatima Wilson ?”

Fatima W. - “I am 29 years old, Montréal born and second youngest out of 6 siblings. I am the proud mother of 2 boys Nayeem (4) and Zayne (2) whom I am raising with my spouse Shane.”

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

Fatima W. “Growing up, most little girls would spend their time playing with dolls, throwing a tea party with their teddy bears, etc. I on the other hand was given a pair of pan sticks... thank you Dad! (Salah Wilson).”

WST - “You are an organizer, performing artist, steelpan player and an educator. Which role do you cherish the most?”

Fatima W. - “Well, if any of these mentioned components were missing then I would not be where I am today. John Grant is a High School that I have been teaching at for over 10 years.  The student body is comprised of individuals with learning and physical disabilities.

“Some people would think that they would have a more challenging time learning the pan, especially considering they also have only one class a week but while they may pick up things differently than most of my students, when it comes time to perform in front of peers during the school’s annual variety show and they play all 4 to 6 songs that they learnt and memorized, the feeling is incredible for both them and myself.  Those are the moments I cherish the most.”

WST - “Tell us a little bit about Fatima Wilson the educator.”

Fatima W. - “I started teaching in the public schools in Montréal at the age of 17 with one of my sisters (Miriyam), basically taking over what my father started in 1991. I not only teach the students how to play the pan but also how to read and write basic music (Theory).”

WST - “The contributions of women to the steelpan movement are undeniable. Do you believe women are finally getting that acknowledgment?”

Fatima W. - “I believe that there was a stigma at a point, and still is today to a certain degree, but when organizations like When Steel Talks showcase the women in pan and allow them to be recognized for all their achievements and accomplishments, it gives us the opportunity to flourish.”

Fatima Wilson
Fatima Wilson

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

Fatima W. - “Instead of coming together and creating a stable foundation of support for the steelpan community, I feel it’s more of an “Every Man for Themselves” mentality which is unfortunate.”

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

Fatima W. - “What keeps my passion is having the opportunity to teach the grade 1’s and 2’s. When I was younger, I always wanted to work with children and be a part of their learning development. The fact that I have the opportunity to do this everyday with pan as the learning tool keeps me motivated.”

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

Fatima W. - “I would like to see steel pan have the same validation as the wind and string instruments in the schools. This will help diversify the music programs in the schools as pan is a well-rounded percussion instrument that can play in any genre.”

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

Fatima W. - “I feel like I am doing my small part in brining awareness to the instrument and I am very proud to be a part of its continued growth in Montréal.”

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

Fatima W. - “There are some individuals who think that the pan is still only for one race.  I read an article about a pan player who happened to be white. The article itself was great but the comments section was more focused on their race and I was just questioning what people are more focused on.”

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

Fatima W. - “Make it your own! What I mean by that is that everyone is different and your creativity is yours, so run with it. Along the way you will be proposed ideas and advice from others but stay true to yourself… make it your own.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Fatima W. - “Panorama is an exciting atmosphere to be in. To me, it’s all about the preparation and practices so that the execution of the music and the final performance reflect the work put in.”

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

Fatima W. - “I wouldn’t say a curse or blessing but in my opinion, sometimes I feel that the focus is more on the popularity of the band playing rather than the quality of the music.”

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

Fatima Wilson
Fatima Wilson

Fatima W. - “I listen to all kinds of music, classic rock,  classical,  jazz,  pop,  just to name a few.  I think you would laugh if you see my play list on my phone - haha...  The whole album of the ‘Sound of Music,’ soundtracks from the show ‘Glee.’  I just love good music. ”

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

Fatima W. - “My parents... my dad for being so passionate about the pan and wanting to change how people view it, and my Mother for being such a wonderful singer.  Whenever we had gigs when she would sing it would just give me the shivers.”

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

Fatima W. - “I see it becoming one of the more popular instruments in time. I see it becoming more and more popular and people really love the sound and versatility the instrument offers.”

Fatima Wilson with Salah's Steelpan Academy - Man in the Mirror - Week-Ends du Monde - Montreal

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

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