Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan



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Meet Niyatta Tyson of Brooklyn, New York

Literally born from, and into, Pan. She is a young woman that is direct and to the point. She’s a degree candidate, working model and one of New York’s finest panists. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - steelpan musician Niyatta Tyson speaks

A When Steel Talks Exclusive


WST - “When and how were you first introduced to the steelpan?”

Niyatta T. - “I wasn’t really introduced to Pan - more like birthed into it. My dad played with Despers USA since forever and my mom was a regular in the panyard. She started going into labor behind a six-bass, but was rushed to the hospital where she later had me.

“Since then the panyard has been my second home. Then one summer when I was eight I saw my godfather playing a scale, and I looked to my dad, pointed at the tenor pan and said “I think I’ll start now!””

WST - “Tell us a bit about yourself, outside of the world of Pan – your present career path and other activities, including your modeling?”

Niyatta T. - “I’m 20 years old and I am pursuing a degree in physical therapy. Also, I model and design clothes and jewelry. I feel like I kind of have a gift for using my hands so, hey - the more things I can accomplish using my hands - whether playing Pan, doing physical therapy, or designing, I’ll enjoy it.

“My modeling has been on a small “waiting list” due to my arthritis but that wouldn’t stop me. I enjoy random fun; I’m a wild child who doesn’t need much to have a grand ole time, LOL. I also feel greatly misunderstood, but hey – that’s life. Everyone can’t be completely understood :) I guess to sum it all up, I’m a wild child, mad genius, who keeps her sanity with a few little ‘destructive’ creations and sweet ‘tempoed’ (if that’s a word, LOL) music :).”

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

Niyatta T. - “No, I felt strong being a female in the steelpan world. Especially in my band where there aren’t a lot of females.  It was more of an empowerment thing for me.”

WST - “Do any of your family members play Pan?”

Niyatta T. - “My dad used to, but my sister and a few cousins now play Pan.”

N. Tyson
Niyatta Tyson

WST - “What keeps your passion for Pan going?”

Niyatta T. - “Well for me, it’s more of an enjoyment and privilege to even play such beautiful instruments - knowing the true history behind them.”

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

Niyatta T. - “I felt most proud when I finally proved not only to myself, but to my dad and my band, that I’m more than capable of playing in the front of the band Panorama night.”

WST - “What about the Pan fraternity do you find most disappointing?”

Niyatta T. - “Pride.”

WST - “Do you think the steelband community and its musicians are regarded/respected in New York?”

Niyatta T. - “No I don’t; I mean, unless it’s people who know pan music and know the arrangers.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Niyatta T. - “Panorama to me is all bands coming together one summer night and leaving everything they worked so hard to achieve, on the stage - and may the best band win.”

WST - “What changes, if any, have you noticed since you first started out in Pan years ago, and present day 2013?”

Niyatta T. - “I’ve learned to play other pans and I see myself becoming more involved with the arrangements of music in the future.”

WST - “What is your vision for Pan in New York a decade from now?”

Niyatta T. - “I would like to see more people knowing and understanding Pan. Not just looking at it like a noisy oil drum.”

WST - “If you could change one thing about Pan what would that be?”

Niyatta T. - “Nothing really; it just sucks to see an electronic one.”

WST - “You may have come across colleagues who did not understand what you mean when you say you ‘play pan’ - if this has ever been the case, talk about how shared your steel band experiences, and their reactions?”

Niyatta T. - “Oh man, it’s such fun telling my friends about Pan. Their reactions are the funniest when they realize how much fun it is. I even invite then to Pan functions just so they can experience it.”

WST - “What advice would give to young and upcoming females who would like to follow in your footsteps as a female steelpan musician?”

Niyatta T. - “My advice would be stay focused and always have the drive to want to be one of the greatest women in Pan.”

WST - “As is common in the steel band community - there is great camaraderie among the players; you stay in contact and hang out together year-round with fellow-band mates, outside of the Panorama season. Talk about these relationships.”

Niyatta T. - “Of course. I stay in contact with a handful of pan players. Mainly from other bands, but there is nothing better than talking to someone who knows what I’m talking about.”

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

Niyatta T. - “No.”

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