Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

 

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Hazel Henley of Girl Pat Steel Orchestra - Trinidad & Tobago

“Hazel was always very “avant garde,” and not only an academic but a talented musician, as well, who had always been fascinated by the pan....Some of us were schoolgirls and people would ask Hazel’s mother ‘How she could allow that in her house.’ “But,” said Pat, “she straightened them out replying ‘it’s my house and these children come from good families”.” 

 -- Pat Maurice, former member of Girl Pat

 - Angela Pidduck - Newsday

She was an intellectual, a Pan Pioneer, and multi-talented, thoughtful, forward-thinking and a steelband leader in an era when women were looked down upon for any association with pan.   When Steel Talks spotlights panist, musician, arranger and performing artist the late Hazel Henley, founder of one of reportedly only two all-women steel orchestras in the 1950s in Trinidad and Tobago, “Girl Pat Steel Orchestra.”

When Steel Talks Women Logo

Born December 14, 1917

Hazel Henley founder of GIRL PAT Steel Orchestra

This was an all-female steelband and was formed between the years 1951 - 1952 at the home of Hazel Henley at No 79 Picton Street, Newtown, north Trinidad.

The band played at charity shows, bingoes, Red Cross dances and did many radio programmes.

The band got initial help from Ellie Mannette, captain and tuner of Invaders Steelband from Woodbrook. Girl Pat had many a problem in its initial years. Society as it was, looked at the sight of girls playing steelbands with scorn.

It was only by the insistence and the strong support from Hazel’s parents that the band survived.

Many of the members of the band were still at school and had to play this now national musical instrument, clandestinely. The sight of girls playing steelband and attending schools especially Convents could have led to them being sent home.

Girl Pat, when it was firmly established, made overseas trips to Guyana then known as British Guyana and to Jamaica with the Little Carib Theatre. At this time, Beryl McBurnie promoted the arts and played no small role in the establishment of steelband music particularly in the Woodbrook/Newtown area and beyond.

Hazel Henley of Girl Pat Steel Orchestra
Hazel Henley of Girl Pat Steel Orchestra - photo by Dr. William Aho

The band originally was known as White Stars and played at places such as Camp Ogden [Trinidad]. The band was named Girl Pat after a boat.

Being an accomplished music school teacher, Hazel Henley got together with other teachers, civil servants and formed the band.

Among the early players were Pat Maurice, and the band had as its musical assistant Miss Jocelyn Pierre, prominent musicologist who today has her own music school and assists in the judging of Panorama and Music Festival.”

For the most part, based on data from ‘2002 Steelband Showcase’ by Gideon Maxime



 
Girl Pat Performance




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