Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Ashley George - New Jersey, USA

“I’m always proud to see the steel pan being used all over the world. For instance, going to ICP and seeing a steel band from Japan was amazing...

“My experience at ICP was definitely unforgettable. From the group of talented players, to the arrangers, the drillers, and the late night practices. It was hard work but it paid off and we became one big family.”

In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - panist and performing artist Ashley George shares her reflections, experiences and views on Pan, and the steelpan art form overall.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive


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WST - “Tell us about Ashley George?”

Ashley G. - “I’m twenty-two years old. Born and raised in New Jersey. I play for a band in New Jersey called Oasis Steel Orchestra and the 6 bass is where my heart is.”


WST - “When and how did you first become aware of the steelpan instrument?”

Ashley G. - “I started playing pan around the age of nine. At first, the tenor was my main pan but around the age of eleven or twelve I moved to a 6 bass. Due to being raised under the Trinidadian culture and because of my parents, steel pan wasn’t something that was unfamiliar to me.


WST - “The contributions of women to the steelpan movement are undeniable. Do you believe women are finally getting that acknowledgment?”

Ashley G. - “Yes I do believe so. Growing up in a Trinidadian household, my parents always said that women in the pan yard was uncommon. Now, there are women that arrange for Panorama. To me, that’s a big accomplishment because there are  really talented females in the pan community.”

Ashley George
Ashley George on six-bass

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

Ashley G. - “I honestly don’t have a favorite arranger. I enjoy everybody’s unique styles and renditions.”


WST - “What is your favorite Pan piece?”

Ashley G. - “One of my favorites is Phase II Pan Groove’s ‘Musical Vengeance’ from 2008.”


WST - “When you are not listening to pan music what are you listening to?”

Ashley G. - “Mainly soca, reggae and R&B.”


WST - “What is the greatest challenge facing this current generation of steelpan musicians from your perspective?”

Ashley G. - “I believe some of the greatest challenges are having reliable places to practice, as well as reliable band members. Things like that can become an issue.”


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

Ashley G. - “What keeps me going is BSO (Brooklyn Steel Orchestra) and the arranger for Oasis here in New Jersey, Sherwin Thwaites.”


WST - “What is your most memorable experience in Pan?”

Ashley G. - “The most memorable experience would have to be playing at ICP (International Conference and Panorama) with BSO.”


WST - “Do you play any other instruments?”

Ashley G. - “No, not at the moment.


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

Ashley G. - “It would be for it to be more of a mainstream instrument.

Ashley George
Ashley George

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

Ashley G. - “I’m always proud to see the steel pan being used all over the world. For instance, going to ICP and seeing a steel band from Japan was amazing.”


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

Ashley G. - “In my opinion, the pan politics is pretty disappointing.


WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Ashley G. - “To me, Panorama is a competition where arrangers get to showcase what they can bring to the table, musically.”


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

Ashley G. - “Both. A blessing because for some people who aren’t close to a stage side band, Panorama may be the only time they get to touch a pan. However it is a curse because due to some of the results, some bands turn against each other when it should be a celebration of a unique instrument.”

Ashley George on six-bass with Oasis Steel Orchestra during J’Ouvert celebrations in Brooklyn, New York
Ashley George on six bass with Oasis Steel Orchestra during J’Ouvert celebrations in Brooklyn, New York

WST - “Describe your International Panorama experience?”

Ashley G. - “My experience at ICP was definitely unforgettable. From the group of talented players, to the arrangers, the drillers, and the late night practices. It was hard work but it paid off and we became one big family.”


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

Ashley G. - “My vision for the steelpan is for it to be just as common in a classical orchestra as a violin, or a piano.”



Ashley George with Oasis Steel Orchestra performing “Outstanding”




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