Send me to Coventry… anytime!

5 December 2017
Fareed Siddiqui, Impact Steel band

Around Coventry, there are bands, musicians, artists. And they are everywhere. Singers, drummers, guitarists, maybe even some more traditional instruments, such as violins and woodwind. There are even steel pans. Quite a few. Maybe even more than you realise. I’m guessing that it isn’t one of the first instruments that you thought of. As a player, pan has helped me through hard times and has given me some of the greatest experiences I could ever dream to have had.

On the other hand, as a player, I still feel like people underestimate it. Steel pans have the power to bring people together and bridge race, age, religion, backgrounds. Originating in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, steel pans now reach far and wide across the globe, making a difference. Just look to Notting Hill Carnival, where some of the best steel bands congregate in London to perform for the title of THE BEST, with people travelling from all over the world to participate and to observe (I’m sure you get the picture). The point being, pans should be more widely celebrated, and I believe that more people should get to experience the joy pans has brought me.

And that brings us to Impact. That’s us, what I am part of. We’re a small but determined group of young people who have been playing steel pans since we were children, led by our very talented and seasoned-pannist teacher. We rehearse in Coventry every Friday night, practising, learning new tunes and sharing ideas about what plans we have for us as an organisation in the future. We have dreams and goals, and we are heading for them.

We have been working to be seen, to be heard, and the people of Coventry are starting to notice us. They can see what we do, and we hope that they are beginning to realise the potential that we have. Coventry want to be a part of our journey, and have so far booked us for 2 performances, playing at Broadgate’s Christmas markets (26.11.17 and 17.12.17, both 3-5pm). Why not come along and see for yourself?

We are a band who have high expectations of ourselves, and we strive to bring the joys of steel pan to as many people as we can, through our engagement and performances and pure passion for the art. We intend to widen people’s understanding and thoughts about pan, and to show them how this beautiful creation, this element of culture from two small islands in the Caribbean has grown and developed to influence us, as we aspire to influence Coventry. And dare I say, make an IMPACT?

Born and raised in the 70’s, Coventry was a very very different place from what we see today. As a teenager living in the 80’s, going into town centre in the evenings was a ‘no go!’ Coventry city centre was not the most of welcoming places, especially for a young man of colour. The 90’s were not much different. Coming back from university on weekends, Coventry city centre never appealed to me as a then student. Moving into the noughties, I moved away from Coventry but came back every now and then and started noticing subtle but nice changes.

Coventry started to get a bit of a facelift, the town seemed a more communal place to go to. Exciting times ahead…

Since 2010, wow has Coventry changed! The student population explosion has brought a new fresh feeling into Coventry. The food courts in Broadgate – finally! The people of Coventry have changed from being very insular and guarded (in my opinion) to being open, friendly and helpful. I’m now a husband and father of two young boys and feel very happy to be living in the city I was born in. Coventry city is now a welcoming and warm place to visit. The people of Coventry are a very proud bunch and we now really feel like a vibrant city of people from across the globe.

This now leads onto the city of culture bid. I’ve been asked by people, what would winning the bid do for Coventry?

Well, my answer would simply be we’ve gone through a heck of a lot in Coventry and becoming the city of culture would make me and my children proud to live in Coventry! It would just put the icing on the cake from a shift in opinions about our city. From being a city where no one wants to visit, to being a city of destination.

“Send me to Coventry”… anytime!
My home, my heart, my Cov!

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