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 - 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
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