Heavenly Metal coming to Sundays at the Center

Heavenly Metal of the South from First United Methodist Church in Starkville will be entertaining at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9, during Sundays at the Center at the Louise Campbell Campbell Center for the Arts.
Staff Writer

Heavenly Metal of the South from Starkville, will be entertaining at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9, during Sundays at the Center at the Louise Campbell Campbell Center for the Arts.

The group began as a summer-only project to introduce youth and adults to the steel drums and has evolved to a group. Heavenly Metal consists of seven individuals who play the steel drums and three percussionists who form what is called the "engine room."  The engine room is comprised of a drum set, a pair of congas and/or bongos and other percussion instruments such as scrapers, shakers and a brake drum which figures prominently in a lot of the pieces the group plays. The church also owns ten small "beginner" steel pans called "jumbies" and they are used regularly in the weekly children's choir program as a way to involve elementary school students.

"The group's name is "Heavenly Metal of the South" and we took that from a similar group we know of in Ohio," Peter Infanger said. "They are "Heavenly Metal" as in steel.  My wife is director, Lynn Infanger and her mentor, Shelly Irvine, is the director of the group from Ohio. He comes to Starkville periodically to tune the steel drums and, when he is here, he works with our group to help us play better as individuals and as a group."

When the Infangers moved to Starkville in 2013, they learned that Starkville High School owned a set of steel drums that were rarely played and asked if they could borrow them to get a group started at Starkville First United Methodist Church. 

"At first, our group went to the high school on Monday evenings to rehearse but that became awkward because someone had to be at the school to let us in and then to lock up after the rehearsals," Infanger said. "So, we asked if we could move the drums to the church and the band director at SHS agreed. So, we rehearse at Starkville First United Methodist Church most Monday evenings from 5:30 until 7:15 pm."

Lynn Infanger is the director of the group.  She graduated from Mississippi State in 1974, with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. She taught in Wesson and Laurel, then in Chatsworth, Georgia for 20 years before retiring from education and we moved back to Mississippi in 2013. 

During the couple's time in Georgia, she received her Master in Music Education degree from USM in Hattiesburg and that's where she first encountered the steel drums.

The group will be playing Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville," Michael Jackson's "Workin' Day and Night," "Samba El Gato," "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Pan in A Minor," "Jump for Joy," and "Unchain My Heart."  The music is filled with rhythms often associated with the Caribbean Islands and those attending the program may feel as if they are in Trinidad, soaking up some sun and enjoying a party on the beach. 

"We hope those attending will get a sense of how much fun it is to be part of such a group and that they will leave with a new bounce in their step and outlook on life in the hot days at the beginning of summer," Infanger said.