Web Posted - Saturday August 14, 2021
When Steel Talks

Magical steelpan reflections

“Culture Matters”

by Dara E Healy

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - “We went over with our rusty pans. They weren't painted or chromed or anything – just dustbins. People didn't know what to expect, but they liked it. They said it was “black magic.”” - Sterling Betancourt, pan tuner/arranger

In 1951, Sterling Betancourt travelled to England with the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) for the Festival of Britain. The players were selected from among the best in the country. It is believed this was the first time steelpan was showcased on a global stage since its invention near the end of the Second World War.

....This week we celebrated World Steelpan Day. You are forgiven if you were not even aware that the day existed, as we did not experience any of the excitement that one would expect for the honouring of a national instrument.

Should we blame it on the pandemic? Maybe. On August 11, the day of the pan commemoration, media headlines declared that the delta strain of the COVID-19 virus had arrived.