Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Natasha Joseph of Trinidad and Tobago

No last name is needed for instant recognition in the world of Pan for “Natasha.”  She is as equally humble as she is immensely  talented. Destined for greatness - she is a musical prodigy who has the respect of her peers.  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - educator, performer, arranger, composer and drill-master Natasha Joseph provides insight into her expectations and experiences as an elite panist in Trinidad and Tobago.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

 

WST - “When and how did you first become associated with the steelpan instrument?”

Natasha J. - “I started playing Steelpan in secondary school at Malick Secondary under the tutelage of Mr. Richard Gaskin at age 15.”


WST - “You are one of the most respected women in pan. And you are indeed one of Phase II’s and Len “Boogsie” Sharpe’s most valued members/assistants. How did that develop?”

Natasha J. - “Within 3 months of learning the instrument I began arranging for my school band, joined Potential Symphony Steel Orchestra for the 1992 Panorama season, and became their Drill Master from 1994-1997. I have been a seasonal member of Phase II since 1998 and I have had a working relationship with “Boogsie” from 2007-2011 as drill master to Carib Dixieland from Tobago.”  


WST - “You are an immensely talented musician in your own right. Where would you like to see yourself in the near future?  ”

Natasha J. - “As a teacher, I am always learning. I would like to continue to have the opportunity to learn and grow as an arranger as well.”  


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

Natasha J. - “To be able to share knowledge with my peers and to nurture and teach the upcoming generation of musicians.”  

Natasha Joseph
Natasha Joseph

WST - “You are a composer, player, driller, administrator and lover of pan; which role do you like best?”

Natasha J. - “Although I enjoy drilling, I get the most enjoyment out of playing the instrument.”  


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

Natasha J. - “The Panorama cash flow. At present, many bands suffer for players because most of their core players do the hustle for Panorama playing with a lot of bands. If it is possible to increase the prize money 200%, this may help to lessen the amount of hustlers by about 50-60%.”  


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

Natasha J. - “Winning Pan Ramajay 1992 as a member of Potential Symphony; at the time I had only been playing for a year and I had to prove my self to be even allowed to play for the competition, so for me it was a great accomplishment!”  


WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female panists all over the world who are dreaming of following in the footsteps of the likes of a Natasha Joseph?”

Natasha J. - “Dream Big and Focus; Follow One Course Until Successful.”  


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

Natasha J. - “I am heavily influenced by Jazz music. My study and listening collection of music comprises of John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker, Chick Corea, Irakere, Dafnis Prieto, Keith Jarret and locally Clive Bradley, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe,  Rupert Clemendore, Aldwyn Roberts, Arthur De Coteau and Earl Rodney.”  


WST - “Do you have a favorite Phase II tune? ”

Natasha J. - “Musical Wine; This Feeling Nice; Woman is Boss; Archbishop of Pan....”  


WST - “What is Panorama to you? ”

Natasha J. - “A Blessing.”  


WST - “What is the greatest challenge the steelpan music art form faces in Trinidad and Tobago today?”

Natasha J. - “Standardization.”  


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

Natasha J. - “One of my visions for the instrument is to fully standardize the instrument - e.g. have one style of pans (especially background) so that when a band goes to another country that has steel pans, they don’t always have to bring their own. They can use what is there because they are all the same style. This will also lessen the cost of freight considerably.”  


WST - “You were also one of those special female players named in ‘Big In De Dance’ sung by Anslem Douglas composed by Brian “Bean” Griffith. Are females players getting their due recognition and respect in Pan in Trinidad?”

Natasha J. - “I would have to say no; in some cases women still get less money than their male counterparts, although they share the same roles in the orchestra/band.”  



Natasha Joseph plays ‘Just The Two Of Us’

More on Natasha Joseph by Dalton Narine

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

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