Prolific pannist Earl La Pierre has been honored in Trinidad for his contribution to the development and promotion of the steel pan.
Ground-breaking Trinidadian steel pan band, Invaders, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, honored the Cayman musician and four other steel pan music arrangers at an awards dinner in Trinidad.
The band said Mr. La Pierre was being honored for his “long-standing contribution to the band, as well as for [his] accomplishments and successes” in Trinidad and internationally.
His involvement with the band dates to when, as a teenager, he became one of the youngest arrangers to work with Invaders.
“I will cherish this award for the rest of my life,” Mr. La Pierre said. “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 September awards event included Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister 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.
A long-time resident of Toronto, Mr. La Pierre founded the Afropan steel band in 1973. Since then, the group has gone on to win the Pan Alive competition, part of the annual Caribana festival, 30 times.
In 2014, the mayor of Barrie, outside Toronto, presented Mr. La Pierre with an award for his decades-long contributions to promoting the instrument. In 2010, he received the Gold Caribana Tribute award and the Cayman Islands Gold Cross Award.
He now turns his attention to this month’s Pirates Week “Pan in de City” competition in Cayman; the Trinidad and 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.