It was more than a night out for husband and wife, Layne and Eulinice Clarke.
With a passion for pan music, the couple would not have missed last Saturday night’s Pan Arts Network 18th annual Snowflakes on Steel showcase in Scarborough.
They also had a very special reason for being there as they were honoured with Pioneer in Pan and Woman in Pan Awards.
“My wife is my biggest supporter and it’s very satisfying that we are both being celebrated for something that we really love,” said Clarke, who started his own music company – Enyal Pan Productions – five years ago – to promote steelpan music.
Inspired by his father Leslie Clarke, who was a talented pianist, Clarke was turned on to pan music in his native Trinidad & Tobago.
“Pan is something I have a deep appreciation for,” he said. “I recognize I have a talent which I am trying to share with the world and I am not doing it for recognition.”
The family matriarch was introduced to steelpan after migrating from England.
She played base with Afropan for nearly a decade and – with her husband – was part of the founding team of Panatics Steelband Network, which was established in 1991. Layne Clarke co-founded Pan Fantasy 28 years ago.
“This couple has made an immense contribution when it comes to pan,” said bandleader, Wendy Jones, who teamed up with Earl LaPierre Jr. to start Snowflakes on Steel. “They have given money and their time as volunteers to ensure that pan does not take a backseat. Their support can always be counted on.”
The couple were married 25 years ago after meeting at a Lennox “Boogsie” Sharpe concert at Cutty’s Hideaway. Sharpe is an award-winning Trinidad & Tobago pan leader, arranger and composer.
Two of their three children are involved in steelpan. Taurean Clarke was an arranger with Jesse Ketchum Pan Vibrations and his sister, Kayla, is the band’s co-leader.
“The kids have grown up with this keenness about pan and I am not just talking about playing and having fun,” said Eulinice Clarke. “It has taught them responsibility and taking ownership for the things they do. I think that’s key and something we should try to instil in the next generation.”
A graduate of York and Queen’s University with a sociology degree and a Bachelor of Education in music education, Layne Clarke is a former Club Carib of Oshawa music director and instructor. He also has worked as a Toronto District School Board guidance counsellor and music teacher for the last 33 years.
His wife graduated from York University and is a content developer at CIBC.