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Published on March 17th, 2016 | by Hollis.J.Clifton


Steelpan Visionary – Hollis.J Clifton chats with pannist – Trudy Murray

1.  CLIFTON: – Who is Trudy Murray?

TRUDY: – Trudy Murray is a British born Trinbagonian, mother of two boys’ ages 6 years and the other a 9 months infant. I am a bass player with Skiffle Steel Orchestra. I Attended primary through Senior Comprehensive in “Lax” – nick name for T&T due to the relaxed attitude of the citizenry in the twin island Republic. I Returned to England after completing C.X.C. On my return to Trinidad, I vowed to learn and be a part of the culture of this sweet T&T.

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I did folk and modern dance through which I participated in the “La Reine Rive” 1994, in which I placed 7th, won Most Original Hair Style (courtesy the late Anthony “Brownie” Mc Farlane); and also being a 2nd runner-up in the 1st Annual South Trinidad African Queen Pageant. I just love to laugh while remaining dedicated to what I do.

2. CLIFTON: – When and how did you first become associated with the steelpan instrument?
TRUDY: – I never really understood or liked pan as in my view it sounded like pure noise. While at Pleasantville Senior Comprehensive School I recall seeing Curtis “Sleepy” Marcelle, Charles Webb and others head to the Pan Room to practice and being invited to have try. So, despite the noise I thought I’ll give it a shot.

I got home, told my grandmother and in the blink of an eye was shut down. She said, ‘ you not beatin that!! Is only “badjohn” does beat that. And if you know what’s good for you you’ll join the choir.’ That I did in 1998 “Sugar & Energy Festival”… Hatters coming down that long stretch … saw a friend with whom I danced who said, “Come up and give it a try! You’ll like it, trust me” … that I did. The following year I played panorama … still not feeling it … chose dance over pan in 2000. I decided to try pan again in 2001 and guess what? I’m still at it.

3. CLIFTON: – What keeps your passion for the instrument and music going?
TRUDY: – I enjoy entertaining the audience, hearing someone say ‘Girl you could real play’ or ‘I saw you in the news papers.’ It’s a love for what I do that pulse … a magnet that keeps on drawing me back in.

4. CLIFTON: – To date how many bands have you played for? 
TRUDY: – I’ve only played with one other band before joining Skiffle Bunch – Hatters Steelband.

5.  CLIFTON: – What are your greatest challenges you face in Pandom?
TRUDY: – My greatest challenge is leaving my family at home or forsaking family function to teach someone who doesn’t care if they play a “B note” instead of a “B flat”: whether the pan they’re playing is filled with water or rust; using the pans as tables; giving you the entire attitude that they can possibly give you. But, you know after all of that my rewards are seeing them play and aspiring to become better players.

7. CLIFTON: – What has been your most memorable moment in pan?
TRUDY: – There are many memorable moments I can speak about. But, the one that tops my list was 2005 playing my first World Steelpan Festival with Skiffle at Madison Square Garden. When we completed our tune of choice, we received a standing ovation. I still get butterflies as I speak about it. That feeling is “PRICELESS!”

8. CLIFTON: – What has been your worst memory? 
TRUDY: – Surely, it will be 2007 panorama semi final night. We were back at the pan yard listening to the last three bands and awaiting the results. To our disappointment we were not in the finals. What made it even worse is that knowing that we being from South and the large bands finals were to be held at Skinner Park.

10. CLIFTON: – Where/how do you see yourself in pan by the next decade?
 TRUDY: – Hopefully still playing pan, playing a bigger role in the band’s committee and having my boys join me.

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11. CLIFTON: – To whom do you look up to musically? 
TRUDY: – Honestly I enjoy all genres of music. So, to pick just one will be hard … African/Folk drummer the late Loderick “Rollo” Foster, definitely knew how to make those drums talk; Stalin, his songs tell a story that is somewhat true to life and has affected someone at sometime. Again, Saxophonist Najee; Nigerian controversial instrumentalist, singer/composer, originator of the Afro beat, Fela Kuti (deceased). I can go on and on.

12. CLIFTON: – What does Panorama signify to you?
TRUDY: – Panorama signifies stress, late nights, practice, practice and more practice; A different kind of fight that sometimes I wish not to be a part of. The obvious, bands are fighting against one another. Then there are players fighting amongst themselves for where they are placed on stage; … tears, laughter and meeting and making of new friends.

14. CLIFTON: – Pan on the road for Carnival a myth or reality?
TRUDY: – In this City of San Fernando surely … it’s a myth. Carnival bands aren’t hiring pan sides to follow and play for them on the road. There are a few competitions dedicated especially for pan, J’ouvert morning, Monday and Tuesday night. But, we have to battle with the DJ’s on the pavements and the mas bands rushing to pass you with their big music trucks.


17. CLIFTON: – What is your vision for the steelpan instrument?
TRUDY: – This is something that has already been started … having the steelpan introduced in schools.

18. CLIFTON: – Can you play any other instrument?
TRUDY: – Yes I do. My introduction to music was while I attended San Fernando East Junior Sec. playing the recorder under the watchful eyes of Ms Conyett; and more recently I’ve started

playing the clarinet.


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Thanks to the “Music in the Pan yards Program”, we were encouraged to try our hands at a new instrument besides the pan. Immediately I began singing “Me and my clarinet.” What amazed me is the ranges you can get from it; … from really low to ear piercing high.

19. CLIFTON: – Are there any pan related issues that bothers you?
TRUDY: – Yes, I don’t like the manner in which pan events are advertised/ broadcasted and the exposure of bands. You can turn on the television or radio and see/hear, when and where is the next comedy show weeks in advance. But, it’s always someone asking, ‘do you know if there’s really a pan jam at this location?’ Also, there are many bands with wonderful music that are not recognized, simply because they probably never made it pass the preliminary round of panorama.

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Hollis John Clifton

Multimedia Journalist

Pan Diaspora Visionary


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