The following is an exclusive interview courtesy of When Steel Talks (WST) - "Meet Wendy Jones of Toronto, Canada" http://www.panonthenet.com/woman/2014/wendy-jones.htm
Meet Wendy Jones of Toronto, Canada
...She fell in love with the steelpan instrument and the power of pan at an early age. She is a founding member of Pan Fantasy Steelband. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - administrator, player and pan-mom, Wendy Jones of Toronto, Canada shares the joy of pan and how the steelpan instrument has impacted her life.
WST - “Tell us about yourself - who is Wendy Jones, and how and when did you first become involved with Pan? What made you fall in love with the steelpan instrument and its music?”
Wendy J. - “My name is Wendy Jones born on the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. I came to Canada at a tender age as my Mom decided to migrate seeking a better life and education for her children. I come from a family of seven - four boys and three girls. I grew up with strong Christian values which were instilled in me from a young age. Growing up in Trinidad I was not exposed to many things - especially Carnival and Pan. I recall my Mom taking us in town and once the steelbands came down I recall my Mom packing everything up and running with us to head back home. It wasn’t until I came to Canada I understood those were the days of the Pan Wars.
“I first was introduced to pan in 1976 while enrolled at Westview Centennial Secondary School. Mr. Earl La Pierre, Sr. was one of the first Steelpan music facilitators at Westview Centennial Secondary School to teach a full credited music credit program. It was the highlight for a lot of the West Indian students at the school. We would soon start spending a lot of our lunch hours and evening in the Pan Portable. I fell in love with playing the 6 Bass. The students went on to start the first school band which was called Westview Pan Groove. This group emerged as a new dynamic set of diverse pan players. Upon graduating from Westview most of the players went on to play with Mr. La Pierre’s community steelband, Afropan. We performed annually in the Annual Caribana Parade and several events around the city of Toronto.“In Afropan I met many pan players who played in several bands in Trinidad; this was great as I now loved the instrument. We all started to really appreciate the instrument and fall in love with the culture of Pan. I used to hear myself singing the bass line in songs over and over - like in Shadow’s “Bassman:” “De Bassman from Hell, music jamming in yuh head.” Shadow really knew what he was singing about. Our summer nights after practice - you go home; you can’t even sleep - only music!“The whole awe of what our culture represents is what I finally saw. We were brought to Canada and I was never allowed to participate in cultural events except it was at church. Now I was seeing a whole new world of Pan. My brothers both played pan in Trinidad’s East Side Symphony and Solo Harmonites. I recall my Mom banning them from attending practice. So for me, I was really happy when she finally realized I could play. I recalled being so happy when she saw me play for the first time at the end of the Parade route. When I am playing I don’t have time to think about anything else - only the sweet bass lines!”
WST - “You are a member of Pan Fantasy Steelband. In fact you are the captain. Tell us about that experience.”Wendy J. - “Several members of our Westview group finally left Afropan after several years and branched off to form our own steel orchestra. Hence North York Inter-Community Youth Group was formed as a non-profit organization. Under this organization was our new group Pan Fantasy Steel Orchestra. The objective of the group was to continue to foster youth leadership skills through the performing arts. Pan Fantasy has now been in existence for the past 27 years. I started out as a founding member playing in the band, and planning community events throughout the years. Fundraising was one of my passions; the group has taken on so many projects and in doing so, has given me the opportunity to take on a leadership role. This has been a great experience over the years.“I enjoy watching the youths come out to practice including my own kids who play in the band. Taking on such a role in any band is sometimes hard, but it’s great when you have several hard-working, key members along with you. Several of our founding members are still playing pan: Edwin John, Carl Husbands (Spy), St. El Moore Bobb. And there are still several key members: Andrew Jackson, Lorraine Francis, Marlene Altenor, Sherwyn Lovelle, just to name a few. Our band members have been a great bunch, especially for me to watch the band evolve from its inception to now. The leadership of this band would not have been possible without all the help from the core membership players, board directors, parents, and the community groups that support us.”
Wendy Jones chats with Rudy Blair.