Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris - Trinidad & Tobago

“My vision for the instrument is to be able to capture the hearts of those who don’t understand and appreciate what pan is, what it’s about, and what it can do for us as a nation.” 

From the tender age of seven Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris’ journey with the steelpan instrument began. It followed her from primary school through university. And as the song “To Sir With Love” says, it has been her constant companion and comforter as she moved “from crayons to perfume.” In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks shares her love and unabashed passion for  the steelpan instrument, its music, the art form and more.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

WST - “Tell us about Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “I am 26 years of age and I reside at Success Village in Laventille. I’m a graduate of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and also a certified nail technician.”

WST - “When and how did you first become associated with the steelband art form?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “I have been in and around panyards for almost all my life. My brother was an avid pan player who played with a few bands in his time. Only at the age of seven I began playing pan with my primary school’s steel orchestra. I played there until the end of Standard 5, then I went on to play with my secondary school, Woodbrook Government Secondary School, for junior panorama and served as Captain for one year. I played my first Panorama in 2007 with Invaders and I haven’t missed one since then.”

WST - “Tell us about being a woman player in Invaders Steel Orchestra?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “Being a woman in Invaders Steel Orchestra is quite the experience because our band is 75% women, so it’s quite interesting to see that women have taken over the band, and even though everyone has their differences we all have a great spirit of camaraderie.”

Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris
Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris

WST - “Were you ever dissuaded relative to, or encounter push-back for, pursuing your passion for pan?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “No, I’ve never encountered any push-back. I’ve actually always been encouraged to continue.”

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

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “I love music, and most importantly I love my band. Music is like a release for me when I’m stressed or overwhelmed and pan is the only instrument I play, so that pushes me to always continue.”

WST - “What do you find most challenging being in a leadership position within a steel orchestra?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “I haven’t experienced any challenges thus far.”

WST - “Talk about your experiences and memories through the years as a member of the stage side - travels, performances, etc.”

Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris
Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “I’ve been a member of the stage side for the last 8, almost 9, years. I’ve traveled a few times with the band to Antigua, to Jamaica for Carnival, and to Tennessee for Dollywood’s Festival of Nations. The most memorable experience of them all is when I went to Dollywood last year. Despite the quick and drastic weather changes, our show always had a full audience and the crowd always showed such a great appreciation for the uniqueness and versatility of the instrument. The warmth of their friendliness and hospitality always helped us to bear through the very cold days to ensure that they got what they came for, a show!

“Our performances in Trinidad are just as energetic as the performances we put on abroad, and nothing beats when we play together as a band and you can see and feel the joy on each other’s faces and those of the people in the audience. Another great memory is the first time I performed in Pan is Beautiful Steelband festival, and we placed second in the tune of choice category after learning and perfecting an entirely new piece in, roughly, a week and a half, and won the test piece category.”

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

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “I’m most proud of how far the instrument has progressed as time passed with the different innovative ideas like the G-pan and the E-pan. Even something as simple as the Virtual Pan app has made the instrument globally accessible.”

WST - “What changes, if any, have you noticed since you first started out in Pan years ago, and present day?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “Pan as a movement is continually evolving, whether it be for Panorama with the selection of songs, or the competitiveness of the stage sides throughout the year. Those are two of the most outstanding changes to me.”

WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female players all over the world who are dreaming of following in footsteps such as yours?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “My advice would be to go ahead, learn the instrument, better yourself with it and don’t leave it up to the men. We as women can put on a good show too, and can do anything in Pan that the men can do and sometimes we even do it better.”

Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris
Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris

WST - “Who and what are your music inspirations and influences - not only relative to Pan, but also in wider music genres?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “My parents to some extent have influenced some of the music I know and love. They exposed me to a lot of music, including pan. Additionally, I listen to music that has deep meaning and speaks to me, usually according to the mood I’m in at that period of time.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris
Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “Panorama, to me, is the best part of my year as a pan player. The entire season is full of such energy and passion from players and bands.  The performances are almost euphoric, and seeing the expression of love for the instrument by players and the different interpretations of the tunes of choice by the arrangers, show us how each one has their own unique ideas and ways in which they express it through the music they put down.”

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

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “Panorama, to me, is a blessing. We (players) make new acquaintances and forge lifelong friendships. Some of us find bands that we choose to call home and become members of stage sides. I’ve formed many of my own friendships and I always look forward to meeting new players. Some of them are fresh to the pan world and I have the privilege of welcoming and passing on my knowledge and skill to some of them as I am a section leader for this season.”

WST - “Do you believe women are finally getting the acknowledgment and opportunities they deserve in the art form?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “Yes, I believe we (women) are. Just the fact that a woman is now the President of the world’s governing body of pan is enough for one to see how far the art form has come in terms of the opportunities women have and the acknowledgement they receive. Women are now holding different executive positions in the different regions, and in their bands as well. When I was around bands at a younger age, it was very unlikely to see women as section leaders, or even as managers/captains/arrangers of bands.”

WST - “What is the greatest challenge the steelband music art form faces in Trinidad and Tobago today?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “The greatest challenge that the Steelband art form faces in Trinidad and Tobago is getting the Steelpan patented as our own, and making it a means to bring revenue to our country.”

WST - “With women now in many key positions of leadership in Pan in Trinidad and Tobago, what changes would you expect to see happen shortly, and in the long-term?”

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “In the short term, I expect proper administration of the different bodies and I expect better handling and appropriation of finances, and also more opportunities for women to hold positions in the long-term.”

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

Kerri-Ann H-B. - “My vision for the instrument is to be able to capture the hearts of those who don’t understand and appreciate what pan is, what it’s about, and what it can do for us as a nation.”

photos provided by Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris

   Kerri-Ann Hyndman-Borris performing with Invaders Steel Orchestra

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