steel pan

How One Family Is Bringing Steel Pan Back

Oct 8, 2015
Lisann Ramos / WLRN

Henry Potter was a 10-year-old in the Virgin Islands when he was first captivated by a noise from a churchyard.

He remembers:

“I’m like, ‘What is that ting-ting-ting?’ so I looked in and I saw kids playing and I watched them. The next day I went back. And probably about the third day, the guy who was in charge of the band, he asked me, ‘Do you wanna play?’ I’m like scared but I said yes. He said, “Well no problem, you can come, you can come and learn to play.’”

  Leon Foster Thomas grew up in a musical household in Trinidad but steel pan  didn't appeal to him - at first. Ultimately the young percussionist taught himself to play the island's official instrument and found it's the best way to express himself.  Thomas talks about his musical journey from Trinidad to South Florida and beyond, details some steel pan history, and shares what it's like to be both a working musician and doting dad.