Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Sky De Coteau of La Brea Nightingales - Trinidad and Tobago

She is a lady with a full plate. University student, section leader, organizer and of course panist for La Brea Nightingales Steel Orchestra... In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, Sky De Coteau of Trinidad and Tobago shares her thoughts and visions for the steelpan instrument.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive


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

Sky De Coteau - “I became associated with the steelpan instrument in late 2005. My then neighbour Mr. Moe, as he is referred to, came around the neighbourhood asking if we (my cousins and me) were interested in joining the steel orchestra. At first, only one of my cousins joined, because to me pan was noise and I hated it. But, it was only after a while the rest of us joined her. I began playing the double guitar pan from which I became very fascinated with the instrument. Gradually I moved my way up to playing a Double Tenor having played most of the instruments in the band.”

WST - “You are a student, panist, section leader and committee member. Which role do you find most fulfilling?”

Sky De Coteau - “The role I find most fulfilling is the role of being a panist because every time I enter the panyard I become a better panist than I was yesterday due to practicing my music. Being a panist contributes to me becoming better in all of my other roles, especially the role of being a student. It allows me to have a state of peace at times.”  

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

Sky De Coteau - “The love for steelpan and knowing that it was originated right here in Trinidad and Tobago keeps my passion for the instrument and music going - in addition to wanting to hear the different arrangements that are being thought of every year. Not many countries have an instrument they can call their own, so we must embrace it while we still can.”  

WST - “What do find most difficult being in a leadership position within a steel orchestra?”

Sky De Coteau - “To me, there isn’t any difficulty in being in a leadership position within a steel orchestra. You just have to know what your responsibilities are and fulfill them to the best of your ability.”  

Sky De Coteau
Sky De Coteau

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

Sky De Coteau - “This year, when my band NGC La Brea Nightingales made to the large band finals for the first time in the band’s history was the proudest moment of my life as it relates to steelpan. It came as a shock to everyone because of the previous years we didn’t made it. I was so overwhelmed with joy, tears were about to come out of my eyes.”  

WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female panists all over the world who see themselves on a similar path in Pan?”

Sky De Coteau - “My advice to female panists all over the world is to just continue playing the instrument, practice makes perfect. Additionally, the steelpan is such a wonderful musical instrument and it can take you places you would never imagine.”  

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

Sky De Coteau - “Terrance “BJ” Marcelle has influenced me in may ways, with his wonderful arrangements. Additionally, Art De Coteau, The Mighty Sparrow, Pat Bishop and Machel Montano are a few others who inspire me musically.”  

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Sky De Coteau - “Panorama is a time where everyone whether young or old, male or female, come together putting their differences aside to achieve one goal, whilst trying to keep the legacy of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture on the rise.”  

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

Sky De Coteau - “From my perspective panorama is a blessing because to me panorama is what keeps most bands alive. In other words, if it weren’t for panorama some bands would not be in existence. Some see panorama as a way of making money and nothing else, which is why the artform is struggling. Hence, in that case it can be a curse for (others).”  

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

Sky De Coteau - “The greatest challenge the steelpan music art form faces in Trinidad and Tobago today is the influences of the other genres such as R&B, Pop, Hip Hop and others from around the world. With the introduction of these different genres, the younger ones tend to forget about their own culture and adapt to the culture of others. Especially if the artform is being neglected in the community or family.”  

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

Sky De Coteau - “My vision for the steelpan instrument is that everyone in Trinidad and Tobago not only learns to play the instrument but they also become musically literate so they can also teach. I would also love the see the instrument loved by everyone all over the world and not being considered as noise!!”

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