The legendary Ellie Mannette has passed

When Steel Talks extends condolences to the friends and family of Ellie Mannette.

More on Ellie Mannette


A message from Mannette Instruments


“It is with a heavy heart, we announce the passing of Dr. Elliot “Ellie” Mannette at 10:50 a.m. He was surrounded by people that loved him up until the very end. We would like to thank everyone for all the thoughts and prayers for Ellie. He was truly touched to see how much he is loved around the world. Ellie dedicated his entire life for the development of the steel pan. His biggest goal was to create and leave a legacy for his students to follow and continue his work. Thankfully, this legacy is in good hands and will be continued in his honor. Ellie’s tireless work over the past 75 years has touched the lives of so many people around the world. His family at Mannette Instruments will cherish his memory and continue his hard work.”

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  • condolence to the mannet family we lost the man himself in pan
  • I posted this obituary on the listserve of the Society for Ethnomusicology and on

    Steel pan pioneer Ellie Mannette passed away today in Morgantown, West Virginia. He was 91 years old.

    Mannette was arguably the most influential steel pan tuner (builder) in the world because of the quality of his instruments and also his willingness to teach and share. He made his name in Trinidad, beginning in the 1940s, as the leader and tuner for the Invaders steelband, whose instruments were sometimes referred to as “harps” because of their beautiful sound. Based at the edge of the Woodbrook neighborhood in Port of Spain, Invaders became one of the first steelbands to acquire a middle class following. Mannette developed relationships with middle class artists, including dancer Beryl McBurnie and her Little Carib theatre. In the competitive and secretive culture of Trinidad steelbands, he was one of the few tuners who was willing to teach his skills to others, which magnified his influence.

    In 1961 Mannette was hired to tune steel pans for the U.S. Navy Steelband, and a few years later he moved to Brooklyn, New York. In New York he met social worker Murray Narell and worked with him to build instruments and teach steel pan to young people in community centers. He developed a life long relationship with Murray’s son Andy Narell, who became one of the most innovative and recognized steel pan players in the world through his fusions of Caribbean music and jazz. In the 1970s Mannette began to work with music educator Jimmy Leyden, a pioneer in introducing steelbands into schools in the U.S., and soon became the go-to steel pan tuner for school and university steelbands across the U.S. (although he didn't like to fly, so he usually travelled by bus). In 1992 Mannette began the University Tuning Project in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he took on West Virginia University students as apprentices and expanded his tuning business. In 1999 he received the NEA’s Heritage Award, and was subsequently honored in Trinidad with the Chaconia Silver Medal and an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies.

    I had the opportunity to meet Ellie Mannette a couple of times. He was supremely confident of his knowledge and skills and didn’t hesitate to share them. A brazen self-promoter, he also had an enthusiasm for discovery and improvement that was endearing. He will be missed and remembered by steelband enthusiasts all over the world.

  • The world has lost a great Ellie Mannette i will say i had the pleasure in sitting and talking to the man
    and he was a teacher one who understand that knowledge in not for one to keep for himself but to shear with others
    he understand this very well. and so he Give to the world and i give thanks for that. so now we Cherish memory and all that he have done for the instrument witch we so love.
    thank you Ellie.
  • Woodbrook has lost a great Son.....R.I.P   Ellie.....

  • super sad news!

  • Remembered in prayers with  respect and admiration.  Hold Tight  family and friends  May you find comfort in memories that make you smile.  

  • Thank you Dr Mannette. 

  • My condolences to the family of the great Ellie Mannette

  • SIgh! May God grant him eternal rest. What a tremendous run!
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