Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

 

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Natalie Wint - New York, USA

“Ahh, the glorious 10 minutes. It’s a feeling like no other. Indescribable. When you’re on stage and the lights hit, you instantly start sweating. Your arranger starts the count, your heart speeds up in anticipation of the excitement. When that last count strikes and the song starts, the crowd disappears for a second. It’s me, my pan and the music saturating my ears straight to my soul. You go through every emotion created by that sound. It’s an adrenaline rush and a wave of euphoria you’ll never experience until you stand on that stage for yourself. I absolutely fell in love with it.” 

She is simply one of New York’s finest panists. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - the multitalented and extremely versatile musician Natalie Wint shares her feelings, experiences, and insight into the Steelband music art form and more.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about yourself - who is Natalie Wint?”

Natalie W. - “My name is Natalie Alexandrine Wint. I was born on August 3, 1988 in Orlando, Florida. I am the eldest of 6 children from my mother who is Jamaican, and my father who is Trinidadian. From as long as I can remember music has been in my life. My father was a DJ and my grandfather was a singer.”


WST - “How and when did you first become involved with Pan?”

Natalie W. - “I first became involved in pan in the year 2000. At that time my father would take my siblings and I to “pan alley” which was on Parkside Avenue, Brooklyn. All the bands would line up there and jam in the night time. I really enjoyed seeing that and eventually my father ended up taking us over to a band called Pan Phonics where I began learning pan for the first time.”


WST - “You are one of the ace “veteran” musicians on the New York Pan scene - performing in recent years with D’Radoes Steel Orchestra. Tell us about being a female player in this championship band?”

Natalie W. - “I’m honored to be considered an Ace player. Thanks for that. After over a decade playing double seconds for CASYM, I left and ended up playing the quadraphonic for D’Radoes. It was different playing a different style of pan in a different environment, but Radoes just has that way of making you feel like you’re home. I’ve been with them since 2011 and it’s been great winning many championships with them.”


Natalie Wint
Natalie Wint

WST - “What are those ten minutes like on stage for you, performing in Panorama - how do you feel?”

Natalie W. - “Ahh, the glorious 10 minutes. It’s a feeling like no other. Indescribable. When you’re on stage and the lights hit, you instantly start sweating. Your arranger starts the count, your heart speeds up in anticipation of the excitement. When that last count strikes and the song starts, the crowd disappears for a second. It’s me, my pan and the music saturating my ears straight to my soul. You go through every emotion created by that sound. It’s an adrenaline rush and a wave of euphoria you’ll never experience until you stand on that stage for yourself. I absolutely fell in love with it.”


WST - “Given that you’ve been a steelband musician for many years, what is most notably different - in your opinion - from when you were a very young player, to now as an adult?”

Natalie W. - “Being a steelband musician for many years, I have noticed a lot of changes within the pan scene. When I was younger, playing pan was more on a rivalry level. Everyone belonged to only one band, more or less, and we competed amongst each other for the best reputation as a band. Now, we mix and mingle as bands and more-so perform together as opposed to being rivals. There were also only a few accepted arrangers for these bands. i.e. - Clive Bradley, Yohan Popwell, Arddin Herbert, Ken “Professor” Philmore... - in that time. Now, many young people who learned the instrument with me are getting opportunities to arrange and be part of the elite arrangers circle that was once considered impervious.”


WST - “What keeps your passion for the instrument and art form going?”

Natalie W. - “What keeps my passion for pan and the art form of steel band is my love for music and my culture. Everybody comes from somewhere, and I’m proud that my culture comes from the sweet island of T&T (and Jamaica). I’ve never had anything move my spirit more than music/pan. That’s what keeps me coming back.”


WST - “The quads have been your pan of choice in recent years; is it your favorite voice of instrument in the steelpan family?”

Natalie W. - “The quads have been my choice of pan in the most recent years because I am a frontline pan player. However, I am drawn to the voices of the bass and background pans. I feel like the background pans always have something to say; they speak so beautifully.”


WST - “Who, and what are you musical influences?”

Natalie W. - “My musical influence in the “pan world” definitely started with my first arranger, Arddin Herbert. He taught me basic music theory and also encouraged me to be a soloist. I also admire people like “BJ” Marcelle, “Boogsie” and the late and great Clive Bradley. I’m also heavily influenced and inspired by smooth jazz music/artists.”


WST - “What is your favorite Panorama arrangement?”

Natalie W. - “I actually can’t pick a favorite from Panorama arrangements. Every song I listen to or play gives me different feelings, all which are invaluable. But I will always love “Woman on the Bass,” played by [Trinidad] All Stars. Love that arrangement.”


WST - “Who is your favorite arranger and why?”

Natalie W. - “My favorite arranger would be a tie between Arddin Herbert and “BJ” Marcelle. They both have unique styles and sounds and I’ve learned a lot from playing for both of them.”


WST - “Being female, were you ever cautioned or perhaps even dissuaded in any way, from becoming involved in steelband?”

Natalie W. - “Being a female, I was told stories from my father about the “badjohn” times where steel band was a physical rivalry between players. But when I started playing, those times were long gone and it was more socially acceptable to play pan as a woman.”


WST - “Some people are still vague about the steelpan instrument, what it is, and even moreso, the concept of a full-size Panorama orchestra. Are there still times you encounter co-workers or friends, people in general - to whom you have to explain the steel band art form? ”

Natalie W. - “I encounter people on a daily basis who are in awe over the steel pan. Very few people know what it is and many of them don’t know where it comes from. The first answer to that question is always “Jamaica” and then I would inform them that it comes from Trinidad. Another common misconception is that we play “garbage cans.” That one makes me laugh every time.”


WST - “What is your opinion on the current state of Pan in New York?”

Natalie W. - “My opinion about steel pan here in NY is the same as everyone else’s. Pan in America is in a poor state. We are not being cared for or respected as musicians and we are being totally taken advantage of in many instances. The only reason pan still exists here is the love we have for our instruments, culture and MUSIC. And that’s the long and short of it all.”


Natalie Wint on quads with D’Radoes Steel Orchestra
Natalie Wint on quads with D'Radoes Steel Orchestra

WST - “If you had the power to change something in Pan immediately what would that be?”

Natalie W. - “If I had the chance to change something in pan immediately, I would make sure all players are properly and respectfully compensated for their talents and time. I would also make it a rule to have free water in every practice and panyard for the Panorama season. The players spend their time coming out to practice and play for the band; there should be no reason they should have to spend money as well, especially on essential items such as water.”


WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to Pan?”

Natalie W. - “The thing I’m most proud about in my pan career is opening up as a soloist. Being slightly introverted made it difficult for me at first to solo in front of a group of people. I’m also proud that I’ve expanded my pan skills by learning how to play the quads. That was a big deal for me.”


WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelpan movement?”

Natalie W. - “What disappoints me the most about the steelpan movement is the lack of appreciation and respect for the players. Also, the value that steel pan holds in America. The steel pan was the only instrument created in the 20th century. That’s a really big deal. Not many people know how to play. Our instrument is so unique and beautiful every person in America should know about it, and we as skilled musicians playing a foreign instrument should be capitalizing off of our natural talents in USD currency!”


WST - “Is Panorama a curse or blessing from your perspective?”

Natalie W. - “Panorama is a blessing any way you look at it. The circumstances around the Panorama can be cursed, but never my beloved Panorama [itself].”


WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female players all over the world who are dreaming of following in footsteps such as yours?”

Natalie W. - “My advice to all females looking to play pan is just do it. Make sure you practice hard and definitely start with basic music theory. You have to crawl before you walk. Learning scales in the beginning might not be that exciting, but it will make you a more skilled player in the long run. And don’t let anyone tell you what you’re capable of. When I first started playing, one of the elder players told me I couldn’t play double seconds because my left hand was “too weak”. Fast forward, I can say that I’m one of the best double seconds pan players to date. So take all criticism with a pinch of sugar and just be the best you can be.”


WST - “What is your vision for the steelpan instrument?”

Natalie W. - “My vision for the steelpan instrument is like “BJ” Marcelle’s vision. In his words, “Pan should be recognized worldwide like Beyoncé and Jay Z.” We should be fairly compensated for our talents and skill set, and we should be showing the world what we can do on a public, worldwide platform.”


WST - “Are there any other steelband-related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Natalie W. - “There are no issues I’d like to bring forward. Life is short and fleeting, not to be wasted on minuscule issues. All I can do is pray for better times in the steel band community.”


WST - “What is next for Natalie Wint?”

Natalie W. - “What is next for Natalie Wint? I am going to school for music engineering and producing music on my downtime. I made a small music studio in my home and in a year or two, the world will know my name in the music industry. Until then I will continue being happy, playing music and manifesting my heart’s desires. ”




 
   Natalie Wint performs with D’Radoes Steel Orchestra during the orchestra’s 2017 Basement Recordings’ Panyard Recording




Their Story, Their Voice, Their Life, Their Dreams - click for more stories

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