Ansel Joseph, Steel Pan Maker/Performer

Ansel Joseph, Steel Pan Maker/Performer. Goodyear, AZ  |  2020 & 2023

Ancliff “Ansel” Joseph was born in Couva in Trinidad and Tobago in 1942, where from a young age he observed the islands’ earliest steel bands. When his older brother started a steel band, Joseph imitated him by making his own pans out of milk and juice cans. He later joined Trinidad’s first all-youth steel band and eventually became a protégé of the legendary steel pan innovator Elliot “Ellie” Mannette. He later took the artform to Canada and the United States, and eventually to Arizona. The steel pan was born in the poverty of British Colonial Trinidad and Tobago. In 1883, the ruling government banned traditional drums, so locals turned to making drums from bamboo and later metal garbage can lids and barrels. “I have spent my life learning and practicing this art form from its infancy. I made my first set of pans on juice cans by age seven. I am now eighty-one. I have been doing this for 74 years,” he says. Ansel worked with apprentice, Charlene Lusk in 2020 and with Andrew Usher in 2023.


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