Female entertainers on the steelpan are set to enter an entirely new phase in their performing lives with the staging of an all-female virtual music showcase aptly titled Girl Power, Diamonds!
Conceptualised by the Steelpan Authority Woman and Steelpan Authority Music, the original showcase aims to put the spotlight on beauties from around the world – playing the national musical instrument of Trinidad and Tobago – using this exclusive platform to display their musical wares.
The power and majesty of women who play the steelpan will be on show between November 20 through December 20, 2020 courtesy of this private sector undertaking which twins culture and tourism, guaranteeing more focused eyes on brand T&T, from global on-lookers, in spite of the pandemic.
In advancing the cause of the steelpan and its practitioners, Girl Power, Diamonds! will feature contestants performing virtually in four categories: soloist, duet, trio and quartet, vying for attractive prizes.
Throughout the steelpan fraternity’s musical history, men have primarily been in the forefront, despite there being female musicians of equal stature.
“This showcase aims to give our excellent female pannists the spotlight they genuinely deserve. Steelpan Authority Woman and Steelpan Authority Music are offering a creative window to celebrate the national musical instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, globally and simultaneously the women who epitomise its beauty,” said executive producer Sean Nero.
He continued, “The event is designed not merely to showcase, but to also uplift women in music, finally recognising them as the creative heroes that they are. The world might be on lockdown, but the beauty of the steelpan shall rise above the restrictions, as the best and brightest exponents of the steelpan artform step forward.”
Rules of Engagement
Girl Power, Diamonds! will allow entrants to delve into music that exudes their style and musical influences to the delight of listeners and viewers alike.
A three-member panel of expert music adjudicators will preside over entertainers performing to tracks, as they improvise. Contestants will be required to play a new tune-of-choice when they advance to other levels of the competition. There will be three rounds of competition: preliminary, semi-final and final.
While soloists will have four minutes in the spotlight, duets, trios and quartets, will showcase their musical wares during a five-minute time slot.
Because, It Matters
Iconic blues entertainer James Brown said it best in his 1966 release of the hit song titled “It’s A Man’s World”. These lyrics open the song. But as fate would have it, the immediate line that follows says “but it wouldn’t be nothing,.. nothing without a woman or a girl.” These words give credence to the idea for an all-female steelpan music showcase. And, here is the Steelpan Authority Woman and Steelpan Authority Music with such a presentation.
Research has shown that in a man’s world, inequality pervades: rewards for women are not as grand and leadership opportunities are finite, even though they are just as savvy, skilled and of course competent. Therefore, the Steelpan Authority brands have stepped forward to elevate these dynamic international musicians and ensure they shine and ultimately command the unbridled attention in the spotlight.
Anyone accessing social media platforms in search of steelpan music performances will come across male dominated content, leaving one to believe that extraordinary female performers such as: Chantal Esdelle, Fatima Wilson, Dr Mia Gormandy-Benjamin, Natasha Joseph, Iman Pascal, Vanessa Alexandra Headley do not exist. Team Steelpan Authority knows better.
Women and girls outnumber boys and men also three to one in pursuit of tertiary education, in the field of music and the arts. Similar statistics are evident in the steelpan fraternity as witnessed during the staging of the national Panorama competition: a large steelband fields 120 musicians on stage. Sixty per cent of the pannists are female. In the circumstances, the Steelpan Authority brands will make a deliberate effort to correct the imbalance, overlooked, by conceptualising, producing and broadcasting Live! Girl Power, Diamonds!
Citing the highly momentous thrust for advocacy of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture, the Steelpan Authority family recognises the need to educate and entertain the masses with discussion and information about the musical instrument.
Nero said, “We propose to produce and broadcast the first all-female series that bridges the gap between exponents of the artform, the Trinidad and Tobago public, as well as, the diaspora and foreign advocates who have adopted and now spread its gospel to the wider world. The steelpan needs to take its place as a key component in the billion-dollar US global music industry. Girl Power, Diamonds! will shine the spotlight on movers and shakers of the steelpan, their story, through music…through our artform.”
The emergence of a contest exclusive to women in the steelpan fraternity seems a natural progression as Pan Trinbago has its first female president – Beverley Ramsey-Moore; and Her Excellency Paula Mae-Weekes is a member of the steelpan fraternity having been a player with St James-based conventional steel orchestra Power Stars.
“Girl Power, Diamonds! is more than just a competition. The presentation serves to ensure the mental and all-round well-being of the artistes. The Covid-19 pandemic has robbed many artistes of legitimate opportunities to earn in a sustained fashion,” said Nero.
He added, “It is therefore practical to allow these gifted entertainers another legitimate opportunity to earn and entertain simultaneously, thereby restoring their resolve at this most difficult time. Within the context of the global theme, this initiative will ensure that the steel pan maintains its position as a global musical force, by providing an accessible platform for future generations across borders.”
Steelpan Tourism trust
Covid-19 has thrust the performing arts world into a digital space with a reach that is further and wider than what has been the norm. With the use of digital metrics, team Steelpan Authority aims to specifically target traditional visitor/tourism source markets. These markets include: North America (USA and Canada), Europe (Germany, Scandinavia), United Kingdom and the Caribbean.
The programme’s format presents a very real opportunity to attract new attention and focus new ‘eyes’ on Trinidad and Tobago through the sharing of its culture. A casual view of YouTube videos and other organic content featuring the steelpan will show that the national musical instrument has been adopted by countries without a large percentage of visitors to Trinidad and Tobago. Countries throughout Asia, Australia and across Europe feature bands or troupes with players who have fallen in love with the steelpan and revere it as an instrument of beauty in similar manner to locals.
The Steelpanauthority.com is a Trinidad and Tobago based multi-media portal built for and committed to capturing and transmitting the most accurate news specific to the steelpan lifestyle globally. Featured sections of the Steelpanauthority.com are: Kids, News, Business, People, Women, View Point and more.
While infusing on-going efforts to further promote the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century, we are intent on celebrating the richness of the steelpan and its unquestionable universal appeal. Utilising this website, we have set ourselves the task to cover and publish all matters related to the steelpan and the people who make and play the instrument, daily. Through the digital pages of the Steelpanauthority.com pannists have a unique hub to tell/share their story of discovery, nurturing, experiences and of course growth in the world of music, as well as performing.
This, as they explore associated career paths.
Education is at the heart of everything we do. We hope all categories of students, as well as, educators, researchers and administrators will turn to us at Steelpan Authority as the encyclopedia of the steelpan, as our library of music, music videos, documentaries, biographies and photo albums grows.
It is hoped that our focused on-line presence will become the preferred choice for quick, reliable and easy-to-access steelpan information.