Steelpan Tuner
Eille Mannette
WST Pan Photographer

Ellie Mannette


Ellie Mannette - Master Steelpan Tuner

Ellie Mannette is widely credited with developing and refining the instrument, and its tuning, over the past half-century, and is often referred to as the “Father of the Modern Steel Drum.”  For the past decade-and-a-half, he has proudly carried on this legacy from the hills of Monongalia County, as an artist-in-residence at West Virginia University.


More on Ellie Mannette

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Elliot "Ellie" Mannette (born November 5, 1926 in Sans Souci, Trinidad)

Ellie has received countless awards of recognitions. A few include the NEO National Heritage Fellowship Award, Hummingbird Medal of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003, he was admitted to the Hall of Fame of the Percussive Arts Society of the United States. Ellie was recognized by the Smithsonian Institute in July 2012.


Additional info below posted with special permission from the BestOfTrinidad.com by Ronald C. Emrit - check link for potential updates 

Date of Birth: November 5, 1927
Place of Birth: San Souci, Trinidad
Education: Woodbrook C.M. Primary School
STEELBANDS:
  • Alexander's Ragtime Band (1939 - 1940)
  • Oval Boys (1940)
  • Invaders (1941 - 1967)
  • TASPO (1951)
  • SPECIALTIES:
  • Tuner
  • Player
  • Arranger
  • Ellie MannetteCAREER:  Ellie entered the dawn of the steelband era when he began beating on metal containers in 1937 at the age of eleven. He joined Alexander's Ragtime Band in Newtown and later helped organize the "Oval Boys" band in 1940. The Oval Boys later changed their name to Invaders in 1941. He made significant contributions to the growth of pan by developing many instruments of the steelband. He was one of eleven panmen selected to join TASPO as the Trinidad & Tobago representatives at the 1951 Music Festival in England. He was the lead tuner on TASPO's 3-month tour of the U.K.
    • He was the first tuner to use a 55-gallon oil drum for crafting pans.
    • His tenor design included 29 notes that transcended four octaves and encompassed the complete chromatic scale, from B in the first octave to E in the fourth octave. This tenor design, characterized by an F# in the center of the pan, became a standard that was used by many bands throughout the country, until the late 1960s.
    • His double-second design, developed in the late 1950s, withstood the test of time to remain a standard throughout the country into the 21st century.
    In 1967, he migrated to the USA and continued tuning for many steelbands throughout the country. He became an Artist-in-Residence and adjunct professor in the Creative Arts Department at West Virginia University in 1992 where he taught the art of tuning and playing pan. In 1999, he was honored for his work in the furtherance of indigenous culture (the steelband) by the U.S. Endowment for the Arts, and received his award from President Bill Clinton at a ceremony in Washington, DC. On October 28, 2000, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad. He received further recognition in 2001 when Settlement Park off George Cabral Street in the community of St. James, Port-of-Spain, was renamed in his honor.
    On April 10, 2008, a Steel Orchestra Concert was held on the campus of West Virginia University to honor Mannette for his years of service to the university. The orchestra was made up of three steelbands from the universities of Eastern Kentucky, Miami of Ohio, and West Virginia, with guests performance from Andy Narell and Jeff Narell.
    AWARDS:
    • 1969 - Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Silver (for Steelband Innovation)
    • 1999 - U.S. Endowment for the Arts Award for Furtherance of Indigenous Culture ($20,000US)
    • 2000 - Honorary Doctorate in Letters from the University of the West Indies
    • 2000 - Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal Silver (for Culture)
    Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit

     WST sparkle video logo An Exclusive When Steel Talks Interview with Ellie Mannette