Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

 

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Erica Renaud - New York, USA

“I actually saw the magic of steel pan on Labor Day in Brooklyn in the early 1970s. In those times the steel bands came down Eastern Parkway. There was always the presence of JabJab which made me afraid as a child, however I still would find my way to chip with the band.”

In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - Erica Renaud, a veteran Brooklyn panist, shares her joy of performing in a champion steel orchestra with the additional pleasure of having her daughter performing by her side. An almost natural phenomenon and common benefit of a family growing up  in the steelpan artform.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about Erica Renaud? When and how did you first become aware of the steelpan instrument?”

Erica R. - “Having a Trinidadian parent, steel pan was a household sound. I would hear it through the VHS videos that were sent to my father from Trinidad every year. I actually saw the magic of steel pan on Labor Day in Brooklyn in the early 1970s. In those times the steel bands came down Eastern Parkway. There was always the presence of Jab Jab which made me afraid as a child, however I still would find my way to chip with the band.”


WST - “Why do you play pan? And what keeps your passion for the instrument and music going?”

Erica R. - “Simply put, because I love it. The passion comes on its own.”


WST - “What is the greatest challenge facing this current generation of steelpan musicians in New York?”

Erica R. - “The greatest challenge we face in New York is stable locations to practice and store our instruments.”


WST - “You have a special relationship with the instrument and art form. Your daughter is also an excellent panist. Describe that relationship?”

Erica Renaud with daughter Jade (2005)
Erica Renaud with daughter Jade (2005)
Erica Renaud with daughter Jade
Erica Renaud with daughter Jade

Erica R. - “The relationship is significant because now that my daughter has grown up, and we both have busy lives, pan is the one thing we both love enough to always make time for. Practice brings us together every night for 6-8 weeks so we get to be with the one we love, while doing what we love. It’s become a tradition for us. We look forward to the season beginning every year.”


WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to Pan?”

Erica R. - “I’m most proud of the championships I’ve taken part in winning.”


WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelpan movement?”

Erica R. - “What disappoints me most is when a player refuses to play with a band due to size or status. Some players would go as far as choosing not to play at all rather than to help a small, starting band. It shows no love for the development of steel pan bands.”


WST - “In 2016 you played in New York’s Panorama with the champions D’Radoes. How was that experience?”

Erica R. - “My 2016 experience was an exuberant one.”


WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Erica R. - “Panorama is the greatest show on earth.”


Erica Renaud
Erica Renaud

WST - “What type of music do you listen to other than Pan music?”

Erica R. - “Old School/Classic Hip Hop, Disco, Funk, Jazz, mainly Soca & Calypso.”


Erica Renaud
Erica Renaud

WST - “Who, and what are your musical influences?”

Erica R. - “Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Notorious BIG, Mary J. Blige, Sparrow, Run DMC, Aretha Franklin, Sade, Lord Kitchener, Flash and the Furious 5, Hall & Oats.”


WST - “As is common in the steel band community - there is great camaraderie among the players; you stay in contact and hang out together year-round with fellow-band mates, outside of the Panorama season. Talk about these relationships.”

Erica R. - “Playing together in a band brings us together like family members. We celebrate birthdays, christenings, New Year’s Eve, eat together, etc. These relationships have even formed into marriages and children in some cases. It’s all love, all the time, amongst us.”


WST - “What is your vision for the steelpan instrument?”

Erica R. - “My vision for the steel pan instrument is for its popularity to reach audiences as wide as the piano has.”


WST - “Are there any other steelband-related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Erica R. - “A matter that concerns me is player appreciation. There should be more appreciation for those of us who play the instrument.”





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