Considered the world’s greatest upcycle project, thus far – from discarded 55” oil barrels to the most sophisticated, mesmerizing, globally-targeted instrument – it’s indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago and called Steelpan/Pan/Oil drum.

   Everyone, young and old, who is aligned in any way with the instrument, except to disrespect it, should take a bow!

   In 1985, when T&T calypsonian Merchant sang in his calypso, Pan in Danger, “But to make a steelpan sound like an organ…, why must there be so many barriers…, uncle Spree (inventor of the instrument), it ‘ain’t easy…pan in danger,” unfortunately, he died 14 years after, never realising that pan was not actually in danger.

Pan's history, development, innovation and innovators are well-documented. The only percussion instrument invented in the 20th century, joining the idiophone family. Within the Hornbostel-Sachs registry of instruments (a system of musical instrument classifications) Pan’s classified as a pitched instrument: 111.241.12 and 111.241.22, located between the Spoon and the Stomp Box, and among the pitched percussion, sits between the Marimba and the HandPan.  

Co-inventor of Pan and first person to sink the surface of the oil drum into its concave style, Ellie Mannette.

While more can be done, there’s no actual shortage of the variety of pan activities and initiatives that exist in the 40 to 45 countries where pan resides, touching from the most-deprived communities to the loftiest universities, respectively. Of the 195 countries in the world, 193 are member states of the United Nations, so there’s much more pan to share.

Large steel orchestras are the only musical bodies that replicate a traditional symphony orchestra. To keep history alive, there is the pan-around-the-neck, termed Single Pan, and small conventional bands, and even smaller, conventional ensembles.

  Pan gave birth to GPan, EPan, P.H.I., Hand Pan, Miniatures, among other types still on the fire. Pan crosses all divides. T&T remains the bedrock for pan excellence.

   Scratching the surface, albeit Pan’s unrefined state in the very early era, it featured on television shows in America; in Hollywood movies; at Superbowl; Arts Festival; Expo.

   At Olympics, Pan soared from merely entertainment, to an unprecedented pan version of T&T NSSO’s version of T&T’s national anthem played last year for the first time, for a medal upgrade ceremony, as approved by the chairman of the International Olympics Committee in January 2021, championed and followed through by Bian Lewis (former president of TTOC).

   The pan anthem was also played at Carifta Games held in the Bahamas in April of this year, and on August 9 at the Commonwealth Games, currently being held in Trinidad at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. 

One of the MITTCO's 24 karat gold-plated Pans among the familiar chromed Pans.

Carnegie and Royal Albert Halls and other prestigious halls have benefited from pan; Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum jubilee at Buckingham Palace; and from 2016 to today, the Interfaith Peace Drums Project in Israel continues to use pan as a means of peace-promotion. On July 17, T&T’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, and honorary chieftaincy Aare Atunluto of Llara Kingdom in Egbe, Lagos from July 14, His Excellency Wendell De Landro, said a significant aspect of his bilateral cultural plans is to introduce pan in schools in Nigeria.

  Quite a few sovereignties gained pan-playing experience and personal possession of pan; some also lapped-up sweet pan music at local panyards such as King Charles III when he was Prince, at bp (then AMOCO) Renegades panyard in 2000, and Asantehene Otumfuo Osei TuTu II at Desperadoes panyard, during his inaugural state visit to T&T between July 30-May 5.

   The first female president of T&T, Paula Mae-Weekes ORTT, learned to play pan with Power Stars (now Resscott Power Stars), and on August 9, current president, Her Excellency Christine Kangaloo, got hers at MITTCO.

  Many citizens who could not travel to other parts of their own country, traveled the world through pan; met distinguished people; made money; experienced University.

   Like the most-highly paid American singer/songwriter and music producer today, Bruno Mars, 37, sang, “24-karat magic in the air,” and T&T now has 24-karat magic pans in the air as manufactured by MITTCO, established August 11, 2022 and brainchild of Akua Leith.

   The world celebrates Piano Day on the 88th day of the year, World Guitar Day: October 18, World Violin Day: December 13, Harp Day: October 21 and Bagpipe Day on March 10, among others, and T&T’s national instrument declared 31 years ago – Pan – eventually received its golden day from United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on July 24, 2023, being officially celebrated on August 11. World Steelpan Day falls within T&T’s Steelpan Month, August 1-31.

President of Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Christine Kangaloo, gets a taste of pan during her visit to the MITTCO on August 9, as coached by founder and MITTCO's Business and Sales director, Akua Leith.

  In response, T&T’s Ambassador to the United Nations, New York, and President of the 78th session of the UNGA, His Excellency Dennis Francis, received on behalf of the permanent Mission, an authentic MITTCO chrome tenor steelpan, from T&T’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell.

   His Excellency said pan has a story to tell; a story that has attracted social anthropologists the world over. He praised Pan Trinbago president, Beverly Ramsey-Moore, having stated, with her being the first female president of 18, it’s no small change.

Apart from the UNGA’s staff and specially-invited guests, and Ramsey-Moore and Mitchell, witnessing this auspicious historical event were:

  • Pan Trinbago’s treasurer, Lauren Pierre,
  • Pannist, Ray Holman, pannist, (who, in stark contrast to Merchant’s version of Pan in Danger, sang during his entertainment that “pan is super, pan is sweeter, pan is power, it’s a winner,”)
  • Artistic director for NSSO, Kareem Brown and
  • NY’s steel ensemble, Pan in Motion (PIM).

King Charles III as Prince Charles at bp (then AMOCO) Renegades pan yard in 2000 being coached by SuperBlue.

Pan played at the entrance of Trinidad and Tobago High Commission, London, on August 11 in celebration of the inaugural World Steelpan Day 2023.

President of Pan Trinbago, the World Governing Body for Pan, Beverly Ramsey-Moore, His Excellency Dennis Francis, The Minister of Tourism Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell, staff of the T&T Mission in New York, and members of New York's Pan in Motion, listen to more pan from Ray Holman and Kareem Brown in Time Square on July 24 after the declaration of World Steelpan Month.

The Trinidad and Tobago flag flies high on the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission Headquarters, London, on World Steelpan Day 2023, August 11.

  Ramsey-Moore said just the thought of the history of pan, and to be officially placed on the world stage, is a significant achievement for T&T, the pioneers, and those who were involved in the struggle.

   Mitchell said: Pan is not just being recognized for its sweet melody and ability to stand alongside world-renowned orchestras, but for its undeniable symbol of positive socio-economic impact for communities, locally and globally.

   Desperadoes newly-established panyard on George Street, POS, and Time Square, NY, were the first two locations to celebrate pan on the historic evening. His Excellency, the T&T contingent, PIM, and some T&T Missions took to Time Square for a last jam.

   Gregory “Lee” Perotte captured the scenes at Despers.

   Working through from 2018/19, highly credited for World Steelpan Day respectively, are London-based Justin Thomas, T&T’s Bertel Gittens and friends, World Steelpan Thrust, with Ramsey-Moore and Pan Trinbago taking it through to legal, recognizable fruition.

   Much is in store worldwide. Headliner, Pan Trinbago’s event successfully marked 11/8: From Behind the Bridge to the World Stage, at midday, 11 Single Pan bands will parade from Piccadilly Street through Duke Street onto Frederick Street to a transformed Woodford Square, for a bumper affair from 5pm with eight of the many top Conventional steel orchestras, and other elements. World Steelpan Thrust, Point Fortin Borough Corporation, among other celebrations nationwide.

   Social media has been busy with greetings.

   International celebrations were signaled from the Consulate General of Trinidad and Tobago, Miami, the Consulate General of Trinidad and Tobago, New York Chapter of the First Ever Global Celebration of World Steelpan Day, the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, Washington D.C. where everyone is asked to wear red, black and/or white, Miami Carnival 2023 with a live broadcast of Pan Trinbago’s event via @miabrocarnival, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Youlou Pan Movement, Canada’s Pan Fantasy Steelband, and the T&T High Commission, London.

   Pan Trinbago’s president Ramsey-Moore said, “Today is a joyful day. Our hearts are filled. It’s our day to celebrate!

Acknowledging that the steelpan promotes inclusive societies, sustainable communities and a creative economy, and can have a positive impact on mental health, well-being, gender equality and youth empowerment, and its for these reasons the day’s been declared.

  The events committee in whose hands Steelpan Month falls and this special day where Pan is curtsied to: Shirvone Mitchell, lead, Richard Gill, Eva-Marie Pouchet, Salisha James, Lauren Pierre, Nicholas Deabreau, and Marcus Ash, with oversight by Helen Scanterbury.

  The Pan community extends one-year anniversary greetings to MITTCO.