With Miami and Broward Carnival season just a few days away, NBC 6 News is exploring the history of the steel drums also known as the steel pans.
With dents hammered into shiny metal surfaces, these instruments create a different and unique sound that’s synonymous with Caribbean music.
There’s a local group looking to keep the traditional music alive in South Florida. Members of the Melo Groove Steel Orchestra practice two to three times a week, rehearsing each song for the perfect performance.
For 16-year-old Zaila Williams, it was love at first sight.
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“Since I saw their first performance in 2016, I wanted to join the band," she said. "When I first heard it, I wanted to learn it.”
The Steel Orchestra is comprised of drummers from ages sxi to 82 years old. All of the members have a shared passion and love of the rhythmic beat.
Musical director Gerard Boucaud has a long history and love for steelpan. He fell in love with the instrument as a young child. Boucaud says there is only one place in the Caribbean that can lay claim to be the “birth place” of the steel drums.
“The history of this instrument is routed singular in Trindade and Tobago. That’s where it was created and that’s the genesis," he said. "But the history of it started back in Africa.”
Drumming would eventually evolve into Carnival in the then British-ruled Trinidad & Tobago. There was even a period in 1870’s when the British government tried to ban aspects of the Carnival specifically drumming.
Today, the tradition continues with the Melo Groove Steel Orchestra passing down history one beat at a time. For more information on South Florida’s Carnival celebration, click here.