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Playing Pan With Samantha “Rissa Pan” Williams

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How did you become involved in playing the Steelpan?

“My Steelpan journey started in my second year at UWI Mona. I was casually walking pass Student’s Union and I heard Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic” being played in the panyard, which is where the UWI Panoridim Steel Orchestra rehearses. I stopped and listened for almost an hour and all I could think to myself was that this is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard and that I had to learn to play the instrument. I joined the band afterwards and my love for the instrument blossomed into unwavering passion that lead me to pursue tertiary studies in Music at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA).”

Are there any role models you look up to?

“I have a long list of role models but the individuals who were key figures that led to my pursuit of a Bachelors in Music are: Gay Magnus, Raisha King and Kadeem Knight. During my time at EMCVPA I had the privilege of gaining mentors such as: David Aarons, Derrick Stewart, Michael Sean Harris, Kyran O’ Connor and Ruth Browne to name a few. All these individuals equipped me with knowledge and expertise that has made me the musician and performer I am today and I am truly grateful for them and the entire EMCVPA family.”


What are some of the usual reactions to your performances?

“When I perform my audience is always captivated by my energy and my passion. I always try my best to allow my audience to feel what I feel through my performances. There is always that one individual who approaches me after a performance and says, “Girl yuh bad!” or “Where do you get all that energy from?”, and for me it’s always good to know that you have people who appreciate what you do.”


Has the music industry in Jamaica become more open and accessible to women?

“I would say yes because we have more female artistes emerging and doing exceptional work. We have vocalists and instrumentalists out there kicking up a storm stronger than the most powerful hurricane and I can truly say that everyone in Jamaica and the world needs to keep an eye out because they can’t afford to miss what’s coming.”


Why should anyone play a musical instrument?

“Playing a musical instrument is very therapeutic. In the initial stages, learning can be very tedious but when you grasp the basics, the joy that you feel – you can’t get that from anything else. When you hear a song and you’re able to replicate it, the thrill and level of accomplishment you feel is beyond this world.



There are times I’m sitting and out of the blue a musical idea pops up in my mind and it will stay there until I go to my instrument and play it. When you’re around, behind or have an instrument in your hands and you’re playing music, especially your favorite genre, you go into a world where the troubles of life don’t exist and you just live in the moment.”



Please feel free to contact Rissa Pan at:





Blessings in abundance!


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