By Lindsey Turnbull
Local music pioneer Earl La Pierre has just been awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award received at the Canada-based Caribbean Music and Entertainment Awards ceremony held at the end of last month. This is yet another accolade for this multi-award winning steel pan professional, who has dedicated his career to teaching others how to play this most quintessential of Caribbean musical instruments.
Teaching youngsters the art of pan
Hailing from Trinidad and always being active in the steel pan scene in his home country, Mr La Pierre moved to Cayman more than two decades ago, but still has close ties with Canada, having lived and worked there for many years. While living in Canada he taught steel pan at the University of Toronto among other educational establishments and was instrumental in getting steel pan offered as a credit course in the North Schools. He first visited the Cayman Islands in 1986 when he played steel pan at the Pirates week Festival. He realised then that there was a huge opportunity for him to teach pan and, as a result, he introduced steel pan to hundreds of school children across the island.
Since that time, Mr La Pierre’s contribution to the development of steel pan playing has been immeasurable and he is now teaching the instrument in six Cayman schools – Cayman Prep, St Ignatius, Triple C, Prospect Primary, Clifton Hunter, John Gray as well as at UCCI. It is his intention to develop the Cayman National Youth Steel Pan Band, noting the enthusiasm with which youngsters are embracing the music, as he confirms,
“These kids of just nine or ten years old can really play!”
Mr La Pierre has enjoyed an impressive array of music achievements, including in 2014 being awarded for his contribution to the art of steel pan in Canada, by the Ontario Steel Pan Association. Earlier that year, the City of Barrie (Rhythmfest) also awarded Mr La Pierre as a Pioneer of Steel Pan. His band has either won, or placed second or third in Toronto’s Afropan steel pan competition at the Caribana festival every year for over four decades and he has won numerous other local and international awards.
This latest award is particularly meaningful to him, he says.
“This award means everything to me,” Mr La Pierre confirmed. This is a life-time achievement award and as a result I am so proud. It really is the icing on the cake.”
The Caribbean Music & Entertainment Awards was established in April 2011 to acknowledge people in Canada who are from the Caribbean and South American music and entertainment industry and who have contributed towards making the different genres of Caribbean and South American Music and Entertainment what it is today.
The CME Awards is open to all entertainers from all of Canada regardless of age, race, sex, religion, disability or nationality. There are 39 different categories that include reggae, soca/calypso, steel pan, Indo Caribbean, Latino & French Caribbean, instrumentalists, dancers, comedians, actors and poets.