Earl La Pierre honoured for contributions to pan

| 02/11/2015
Cayman News Service

Earl La Pierre with his Arrangers Award

(CNS): Ground-breaking Trinidadian steel pan band, Invaders, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, recently honoured local musician Earl La Pierre for his lifetime of contributions to the development and promotion of this musical instrument, at an awards dinner in Trinidad.

To mark the anniversary, the band hosted a gala at which Earl La Pierre was one of only five arrangers of steel pan music recognised for their accomplishments. In inviting him to attend the ceremony, the band said La Pierre was being honoured for his “longstanding contribution to the band, as well as for (his) accomplishments and successes” within Trinidad as well as internationally.

The band’s history is the history of the steel pan, also known as a drum. One of the founders, Ellie Mannette, was the driving force behind the design and construction of the instrument as it is played today, and is known as the “Father of the Modern Steel Drum”.

La Pierre’s involvement with the band dates to when, as a teenager, he became one of the youngest arrangers ever to work with Invaders, and he is mentioned throughout a recently published book chronicling the group’s 75 years, “Invaders Steel Orchestra: The History of a Legendary Trinidad Steelband”.

La Pierre said he was honoured to receive this recognition. “I will cherish this award for the rest of my life. This is the band I grew up with, that gave me my first chance to be an arranger. I really do appreciate this award.”

Guests at the event included Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, the country’s Minister of Community Development and the Arts Nyan Gadsby Dolly and the Chairman of the Invaders Steel Orchestra Ulric McNichol.

In addition to his many accomplishments as a player and arranger, La Pierre has worked throughout his life to introduce the pan to young people wherever his has lived, through starting programmes in schools as well as setting up various bands. His influence extends beyond Trinidad to Canada and the Cayman Islands.

A long-time resident of Toronto, La Pierre founded the Afropan steel band in that city in 1973, and in the more than 40 years that followed, this group has made a name for itself locally and internationally, winning the prestigious Pan Alive competition, as part of Toronto’s annual Caribana festival, 30 times.

He has been recognised previously for his dedication to pan. Among his many accolades, in 2014, the mayor of Barrie, which is located outside of Toronto, presented him with an award for his decades-long contributions to promoting the instrument. In 2010, he received the Gold Caribana Tribute award as well as the Cayman Islands Gold Cross Award.

In 2008, he was presented with the Trinidad & Tobago Consul General’s Diaspora Award for Excellence in Culture and Community Development for his efforts to promote the steel pan.

La Pierre is now turning his attention to a full calendar of pan events – the Pirates Week “Pan in de City” competition in November, the Trinidad & Tobago Carnival in February 2016, the National Children’s Festival of the Arts Amin Mohammed Steel Pan Competition next spring, and Caribana in Toronto in August.

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Category: Culture, Music

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t he dress like that when he is in Cayman?