Steel pan artist brings nontraditional worship

Sounds of the islands echoed in the Center for Worship concert hall Tuesday, Nov. 8, as world premiere steel pan artist Kelvin Corbett performed for the students of Liberty University.

Corbett, along with his wife, Judy, was invited to be a feature artist in the Center for Worship’s Christian Artist Concert Series. Corbett is a steel pan musician and an assistant pastor at his church, House of Praise, which is located in Port of Spain in Trinidad.

“I have been playing the instrument since age 11, and I have never been taught by anyone,” Corbett said.

Originally created from steel oil pans, the steel pan is a bowl shaped instrument from the Trinidad and Tobago islands made from sheet metal in which indentations are carved into the walls of the bowl to create notes. In coming to Liberty, Corbett hoped to introduce how the steel pan could be incorporated into church worship.

“Some people are only familiar with the steel pan in what Trinidad calls the carnival season. People are more knowledgeable of the instrument in a worldly sense, but I am trying to introduce it also into gospel,” Corbett said.

“The steel pan was not accepted at first in the churches in Trinidad,” Dr. Vernon Whaley, director of the Center for Worship, said. “This instrument is like many of the drums that have had a hard time or a slow time being accepted into churches.”

Over the years, Corbett has performed around the world alongside well-known names such as Lionel Peterson, Ron Kenoly, Sandi Patty, Jaci Velasquez, Alvin Slaughter, Phil Driscoll and Cece Winans. He has also received an award from the Trinidad and Tobago Gospel Award Association and produced two albums: Pan In Shekinah and Pan In Shekinah 2: Lift Him on High.

During his performance, Corbett played different styles of music including classical, jazz and calypso, using the fourth and fifth tenor steel pans. According to Corbett, there are 13 different types of steel pan which are assembled to create an entire orchestra.

“Corbett was a professional steel pan artist traveling all over the world before he got saved,” Whaley said. “This concert gives our students the opportunity to see someone of this caliber. He is a world class player who has a great Christian testimony, but is one of the finest steel pan players in the world.”

“It is amazing to see how others worship God in another culture,” sophomore Bethany Chistpherson said.

“Corbett puts everything into his worship,” sophomore Paige Burhans said.

“He did not care what people thought of him,” sophomore Candace Helsabeck said. “He has the joy of the Lord.”

Tuesday night’s concert was one of six concerts scheduled for the 2011-12 academic year by the Center for Worship. To learn more about the upcoming concerts contact the Center for Worship at 434-592-3875 or email them at

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