METRO Steel Host Pan Launch
By ADIKA BUTLER
BROOKLYN, Aug 4 — The air was filled with electricity as hundreds packed the Metro Steel Orchestra pan-yard on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn- Sunday, for live performances by the home band, the Caribbean American Sports and Cultural Youth Movement (C.A.S.Y.M), Utopia Pan Soul, Dem Stars and Women in Steel.
Dressed in red haltered tops with beige shorts and mini skirts—Women in Steel wowed the crowd with their performance, which included a rendition of the R. Kelly hit “World’s Greatest”. The band really got over with the crowd as one on-looker blurted out, “hey they’re pretty good!”
Band Manager Collette Baptiste, 27, a fourth grade teacher at P.S. 244 in Brooklyn is glad to see women excel in a genre of music that has historically been dominated by men.
Bamboo drums were banned by the government of Trinidad and Tobago almost a century ago because the bamboo was allegedly used as a weapon by the island’s rude boys. Musically inclined Trinidadian males then reacted by making use of the pitch-oil tins that belonged to their mothers and wives.
Given that there might not have been any steelbands if the household property of women were not available, it’s only right that they now assume active roles within the musical culture they helped to establish. Baptiste couldn’t ask for a better arrangement.
“Not only are women involved [with the steelbands,] they’re taking lead roles, or even owning their own pan groups like this one- Women in Steel,” she said. Baptiste’s mother Claudette is a founding member of the eight-year-old band along with Hazel Young Lau.
The band came in at third place at the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) Pan-O-Rama last year. With Andy Narell serving as band director at this year’s event sponsored by WIADCA they’re expecting to improve upon last year’s standing. One can bet that they will be facing stiff competition in the form of Metro, who put on a good showing. They finished at second place during last year’s Pan-O-Rama.
The crowd on hand was also treated to a spirited performance by C.A.S.Y.M, whom everyone will be watching this year. The band has been a first place winner at the past two WIADCA Pan-O-Ramas.
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CASYM Steel Orchestra
Parking lot of
Mahalia Jackson High School
Metro Steel Orchestra
1720 Nostrand Ave.
Women In Steel
1488 Schenectady bet. Farragut and Glenwood, Brooklyn, New York