The influence of Trinidad & Tobago’s steel pan music has been grossly under-documented. The history of the instrument and its impact on the world community seems to be under-reported and only partially documented until now.
Introducing “Panomundo” the second and final installment of a series, which explores its global reach to — Japan, Nigeria, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Continuing from a 42-minute preview which explored the Evolution of the Steel Pan, two documentarians of this project traveled to six geographical locations to further expand on the impact of the unique Caribbean-born instrument.
“We traveled to six countries because we wanted to document the impact the music has had in jazz, classical, Latin and other music,” producer Charysse Tia Harper explained.
“How it has helped people suffering with Down Syndrome and Aspergers Syndrome as well as how the Nigerians have implemented its use with regard to military discipline.”
Harper considers herself a T&T / US national. Born and raised in Oxnard, California, she boasts a parent from the twin islands. She graduated from the University of Southern California with bachelor degrees in cinema and television productions and broadcast journalism. After completing her undergraduate studies she moved to London. It was there that she recognized the benefit of living in an international city with a large mix of ethnicities. She capitalized on the opportunity of learning about different cultures by travelling to 20 countries and has enjoyed recounting her experiences with family and friends.
While in England she also earned an advanced degree in management and leadership at Regent’s University London in England.
Now a resident of New Jersey and an avid biker, Harper commutes to Brooklyn, New York often to soak up the culture and revelry that abounds.
Last weekend she was able to meet and greet hundreds of revelers lined up to experience Panorama 2018.
In her latest project the aspiring Academy Award nominee spoke with pannists and a number of experts on the instrument including Earl LaPierre Sr.
Along with director Keith Musaman Morton the producer confirmed much of the claims surrounding the beat and rhythm of the steel pans and documented their findings in a film slated to premiere in Brooklyn on Sept. 19.
The film had its European premiere recently during the London Nottinghill Carnival in England. Ironically, it seems an appropriate European launch since it was at the Festival of Britain in 1951 that steel pan music actually had its big international debut.
According to Harper, with limited resources from the government of Trinidad & Tobago, the Trinidad All-Stars represented the twin island by presenting a global display of the orchestral harmonization of steel.
Although the band comprised of only 10 musicians performed, soon afterwards, they were invited to repeat their musicianship in Italy, France and Switzerland. Needless to say, pan fever spread from Europe to the continent of Africa arriving with impact in South Africa.
Although SA has many more pannists playing the music, the film turns the lens on Nigeria because “there is one guy who is a stalwart and he is devoted to promoting the music.”
“We focused on Nigeria because there is an Abuja festival — replete with camels, stick fighting and in Lagos, a steel pan competition — as a matter of fact Len “Boogsie” Sharp played there at the presidential palace.”
Fans of the music will be able to purchase DVD copies of part one of the two-part series at the free screening which will be held at 204 Parkside Ave. (near Flatbush & Ocean avenues). Beginning at 7 pm pan aficionados will be able to bolster their knowledge of the sole instrument that merited an entire evening’s attention at the recent West Indian American Day Carnival Association’s pre-Labor Day festivities at the Brooklyn Museum.
On Panorama Night, last Saturday, eight bands competed for a WIADCA championship prize.
A long queue to the entrance began forming soon after the junior carnival parade procession ended. Stretching past outdoor vendors and meandering to the front of the façade, patrons lined a walkway to purchase tickets to the competition.
That same enthusiasm and support is expected on Sept. 19 in Brooklyn.
Presenting insightful information and enlightening historic details which has never been documented Harper and Morton has gifted the world with steel, music and history.
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