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Published on July 30th, 2017 | by www.tropicalfete.com

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The Melo Groove Steele Orchestra keeping Pan Culture alive

Steel Pan or steel drums were created in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1930s. The Steel Pan is a unique form of musical expression, but the origin of steel pan started centuries before in Africa. Africans brought the concepts of drumming and festival which would eventually evolve into Carnival when the Spanish and then British-ruled Trinidad & Tobago.  There was even a period in 1877 where the British government tried to ban aspects of the Carnival. They found parts of Carnival offensive including the drumming. Drumming was mainly done by instruments made out of bamboo with stamping tubes and some metal containers and some scrap metal. By the 1930s the metal instruments dominated and we began to see what we know as today as the Steel Pan aka as the Steel Drum. The cultural form began to grow among people of color on the island. Steel Pan & Carnival even became cultural manifestations that united the African and Indian populations in Trinidad & Tobago.

In the early days of the Steel Band acceptance was not across all areas of Trinidad and Tobago society.   After many evolutions, the Steel Pan Culture would, however, eventually become a national treasure, especially under the father of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Eric Williams. The Steel Pan was now the source of great pride for all Trinibogians.  The instrument travelled throughout the Caribbean and Central America and eventually the rest of the world. Today Steel Pan groups can be found anywhere that Caribbean communities are heavily saturated. There is an organization that is helping to keep the culture growing right here in South Florida.

The organization is The Melo Groove Steele Orchestra Inc, a non-profit organization started through the inspiration of a Trinidadian who played Steel Band instruments since the age of 12 during the early decades of the Steel Pan Movement. The late Mr. Melville Esdelle (1939 – 1992) had come to Florida where he taught children how to play the Steel Pan instruments. The organization began operations in the city of Sunrise the 1st of January 2016, continuing that mission of Esdelle, affectionately called Melo. According to the organization “Melo Groove Steel Orchestra, Inc. strives to keep Melo’s dreams alive which are creating a safe structured outlet for young people to embrace the culture and to continue to elevate steel pan music,” a dream that includes teaching children and henceforth keeping the culture alive and growing.

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