Laying down on her bed one night, she began to think about who she is as a person, and as a person in the steelpan industry. This prompted Nao-mi Frederick to start a social media page.
Frederick, then a student at Mucurapo West Secondary’s Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) pan manufacturing programme, approached her teacher, Kurt Sargeant, with an idea that would see her chatting with her friends about the idea the same night, but they were clueless of the scope.
Progressing to the Metal Industries Company (MIC), Frederick, along with her friends, wanted to become manufacturers and tuners, which saw her apprising them of the bigger idea prompting interest and excitement.
Frederick’s idea to form an all-woman steelpan manufacturing and tuning team called Women of Steel (WOS) came to life.
Currently being tutored by Roger “Moon” Robinson of LH Pan Groove and Kaijah Codrington, of The Codrington Pan Family, the five friends—Sindy Herrera, Amanda Sinnette, Keyanna Munroe, 21 years, and Abigail Reece and Frederick, 20—would become T&T’s first female and youngest female pan-manufacturing and tuning team, with a possibility of being the world’s, given no record to date August 24, 2020.
With a vision “to develop and showcase the female presence in steelpan manufacturing and explore their potential in the industry,” Frederick justifies her aspiring essential career as fuelled from having learned about all the great aspects within the industry, and observing the absence of women in many areas. She wants to change that by encouraging more girls and women to grasp the opportunities. She said: “It is not a man-alone thing anymore, and women can learn the craft and artform and make huge profits.”
“I want WOS ‘to truly educate T&T about the steelpan with special focus on manufacturing and tuning; to get legal protection for the steelpan; become activists; and promote discipline and productivity as a group promoting female excellence in the industry’.”
With goals to become educators, entrepreneurs, respected manufacturers and tuners but in general, all-rounded human beings, Frederick stresses that they put God first in everything they do, but notes, without discipline, passion and focus, one will not easily or properly achieve anything. It is your mentality that has to act.
“We plan on making a dent in the steelpan industry even though we know it’s going to be a lot of hard work,” said Frederick. “We need to start speaking to the world on certain topics that are not commonly spoken on.
“These five wonders of world are multi-talented and, “have been unbreakable buddies since 2012; like a tight-knit family.”
She quipped: “We are also proud members of the MHTL Starlift family and are ‘We Not I’ forever, having started from the junior band.”
Songster Frederick, once captain for the junior band and Reece the secretary, have advanced with the other three to the senior orchestra where Frederick masters all pan instruments but plays the guitar pan, of which, she is the section leader and Alternate Floor Representative.
Frederick, the eldest of six siblings, is born to Ayana and Takunda Frederick, and apart from highly praising her former CVQ teacher for impacting her confidence and forward thinking, Starlift has done wonders.
She said: “Responses on our pages are overwhelming, inspiring and very humbling. It’s a great, awesome and fantastic experience, and we haven’t even started to touch on the meat of our journey.”
Woman of Steel ready to take the world by storm
Frederick says: “Young people want to be reckless and not work hard, but the steel women’s moms don’t make joke, so we have to always walk the straight line. We have a very positive attitude towards learning, and are excited about all our future endeavours.
“We boast of being black, proud, independent young adults, literally ready to take over the world with God at their side.”
Frederick thanks God for choosing this path for them, and often-time wonders, what the Women would have been doing if they didn’t consult with Him first. She prays for the break they need to “talk to the world about our history, pan…that is ours.” She also thanks everyone who played a part in making her dream start to take shape.
Women of Steel are exclusively specialising in manufacturing and tuning bass pans.
The pan fraternity, and communities, Carenage, Diego Martin and Sea Lots, should stand in honour of these five young women, for, as Frederick describes them: “True women of steel.”