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Growing with Steel
Jamani Stewart's Biography|
Jamani has been surrounded in music from his birth. At home music is played all the time, so from a baby he would hear his dad-practicing pan night and day. When he was about eleven months old he received a plastic drum kit from his parents, this was to help him channel his drumming desire on an instrument, prior to that he would jam with his dad on pots and pans, at that time he was encouraged to jam rhythms on virtually anything that made a sound.
He was also allowed to play dad’s Steelpans, at that time a lot of work was needed to ensure he learnt very fast on how to strike a note correctly on a pan, he was encouraged to play one note for a long time and mimic the sound with his voice and not hit the pan too hard and damage the delicate notes.
As he got a bit older before he could talk he would be constantly singing and making beat box sounds with his mouth.
In 1997 he received a small Yamaha child drum kit for his third birthday, that year he did his first live performance with The Jamma Caribbean Jazz Band, having his kit set up all the time in his bedroom he developed very good timing. He played two numbers with the band, and after the performance he went into his solo jamming performance, the audience were completely blown out with this youngster’s skill. On Ray Holman’s visit to our home he commented on Jamani's exceptional ability and sense of rhythm.
As time went on Jamani started putting clusters of notes together on the pan and creating short melodies, it was not long before he taught himself “Happy Birthday”, which took him a few weeks to work out.
His dad not showing him the notes allowed him to discover the note’s on his own, this was achieved by singing the song along with him until he stopped playing, which would bring on frustration, allowing him to find the notes.
One morning he eventually found the last notes for the song, and he was ecstatic, running round the house, running back to the pan singing, jumping. That was the que dad was waiting for, to start teaching him songs for his repertoire.
He would sometimes just learn a couple of lines and practice them for as long as he could, the main thing was that he was learning and you could see the progress as it came together. When he could play a couple of songs, he performed at his nursery.
When he was five years old his dad brought him his solo set up MD player, microphone, stands, and a well made pan made by Mappo, that Yohan Popwell carried over from Trinidad.
His dad felt it was time to launch him as a solo artist, as a soloist he would be completely independent. His ability to present himself on stage, address his audience, regardless of their age and not show a hint of nerves still quite astonishing.
It is always stressed to him the importance of rehearsing, practicing his lines carefully. At times he would run off when dad turned his back, but he loved being chased up the stairs he would laugh and scream on the top of his voice and see how far he could get, before he was caught and carried back to the pan to complete his lesson.
Jamani 9 years old - playing "Now is the Time"
Birmingham School of Pan featuring 10yr Jamani on Drums