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Liz Mannette puts pan on the (Google) map

Published: 
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Liz Mannette

Janine Charles-Farray

Elizabeth “Liz” Mannette was tired of getting lost. Setting out to visit a new panyard was always a wearisome adventure because she would often have to turn back when she could not readily find the location.

As a diehard Caribbean Airlines Invaders fan, even following her band around on Panorama competition days was challenging.

It often involved walking in circles around the Queen’s Park Savannah during semis or finals attempting to find the band’s location before the big stage performance. In her search for a solution, Mannette realised she was not alone.

She found similar stories of frustration. Newcomers to the panyard scene, younger people seeking to learn more about their culture, and even seasoned veterans of Panorama all experienced a shortage of information related to how to navigate their movements during Panorama season.

For Panorama 2017, Mannette was encouraged to launch a mobile app to put steelbands and panyards on the digital map.

The new PanCrawl digital app aims to show the exact location of all T&T panyards on Google Maps.

For Panorama 2017, the PanCrawl app will go even further to show where each band will be in or around the Savannah on the competition days and will display the band’s location from the panyard to the stage.

“This app will use technology to connect the pan community globally, as eventually we want all panyards of T&T and of other venues around the world where pan music is heard to be on the app.”

This pioneering work is nothing new to Liz.

She has been flying the colours of steelpan for many years, not only for the love of the music but as a part of a long family tradition.

She’s second cousin to steelpan legend Elliot “Ellie” Mannette, who founded the Invaders steel band more than 75 years ago.

He is widely acknowledged as the father of the modern pan. The elder Mannette is a world-renowned pan maker and tuner, as well as player.

He built and tuned pans for the legendary Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) tour of Britain in 1951, and continues refining the metallurgy of the instrument today.

His work in developing T&T’s national instrument is well documented across the world, including by Niherst’s Caribbean Icons in Science, Technology and Innovation for his “scientific approach to instrument making.”

In similar fashion, Liz Mannette’s innovative work goes beyond just appreciating the music.

She has spent over ten years as a successful jewelry designer, producing unique, stylish accessories inspired by all variations of the national instrument.

She recently completed a book, Journey to 10, which outlines her personal journey combining a career as a Harvard lawyer, former PNM senator, and former diplomat with her pan heritage.

The impetus for the steelpan PanCrawl app fit neatly within her new strategy to create digital entertainment and media to transcend generations, linking Ellie (now in his 90s) with young Millennials and future Generation Z.

“In 2015, I observed my younger nieces and nephews engrossed in digital technology—walking around with their head in an iPphone listening to music, looking at videos and playing games—and I realised they were removed from the traditional world of the panyard where I learned about pan,” said Mannette in a recently conducted interview.

The suite of apps and games will represent an online and mobile gaming platform launched as a teaser for a new animated series in development entitled Tess the Tenor to build music, personal development and playing skills.

The PanCrawl app is now available for free download on the Apple App Store and Google Play online, as well as from Mannette’s website.