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Tribute To Women In Pan

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Meet Krystal Nestor - St. Lucia

“I remember standing on the road side watching and listening to a steel band and I got lost in the music. It was then I promised myself that I had to learn to play the steel pan. When I play my pan there’s not a worry in the world.” 

Pan is simply her life. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - panist, manager, performing artist, educator and arranger Krystal Nestor 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  Krystal Nestor?”

Krystal N. - “Krystal Nissa Nestor, was born on March 9th and is from Castries, St. Lucia. I’m the eldest of two sisters and a brother and was raised by a single mother.  Krystal is a hard working and determined young lady, always on the go when it is steel pan affairs. She has played 40 panoramas to date in St. Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua and New York. Krystal is a strong-willed, persistent, vibrant, fun-loving, easy-going, sometimes shy, individual. She is well known as one of St. Lucia’s most profound and finest steel pan players.”

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

Krystal N. “I first became associated with the steel pan at the age of 13 at St. Joseph’s Convent Secondary School.”

WST - “How long have you been playing pan?”

Krystal N. - “I have been playing pan for 19 years.”

WST - “You have the distinction of being the first female arranger of a Panorama orchestra in the island of St. Lucia. You were also the first woman to arrange for a Junior Panorama.  How did that develop?”

Krystal N. - “As a player I’ve always wanted to try out and had that urge to know what it felt like to be in the shoes of an arranger, especially for steel pan. An opportunity presented itself five years ago when the Cultural Development Foundation of St. Lucia had this training workshop for persons who were interested in learning to arrange where Allison Marquis was the facilitator. And the rest is history.”

WST - “Who have been your major influences in pan?”

Krystal N. - “My major influences in pan in St. Lucia would be Sean Lewis who resides in Trinidad, and Allison Marquis and Ivan Smith of St. Lucia.”

Krystal Nestor
Krystal Nestor

WST - “What type of music do you listen to when you’re not listening to pan music?”

Krystal N. - “I listen to jazz, classical music and music of the 60s, 70s & 80s when I’m not listening to pan music.”

WST - “Do you play any other instruments?”

Krystal N. - “No.

WST - “You had the roles of manager, music educator, arranger and player. Which do you value the most?”

Krystal N. - “I value the roles of music educator and arranger. For me it’s important to pass on everything that I know in this field for the purpose of the growth and continuity of this art form. Being an arranger also has great value for it’s a pivotal role to uphold. It has taught me to be self-reliant and I can also groom the young ones.”

WST - “Do you have a favorite arranger?”

Krystal N. - “Len “Boogsie” Sharpe.”

WST - “Do you intend to make music a career?”

Krystal N. - “Yes I do. It’s already a work in progress.”

WST - “What keeps your passion for the instrument (steel pan) and music going?”

Krystal N. - “It’s mainly the enthusiasm from my junior players, it is the driving force that keeps me going. Also the constant support and encouragement I get from family and friends, and advice from Cecil “Tortee” Philgence of Pantime Steel Orchestra.”

WST - “What is it about the steel pan that has so captured your passion?”

Krystal N. - “Being introduced to carnival at an early age led me to being captured by this wonderful instrument. I remember standing on the road side watching and listening to a steel band and I got lost in the music. It was then I promised myself that I had to learn to play the steel pan. When I play my pan there’s not a worry in the world. Everything is perfect when I’m in my zone. I applaud all those who have contributed to the birth & development of the steel pan instrument.”

WST - “What does your family think about your pan involvement?”

Krystal N. - “My family members are always in my corner. They have been very supportive from the very first day I enrolled in steel pan. They always look forward to Panorama time where they all get involved in some way or the other. Especially my mother, Georgiana Nestor, who has been my number one fan and now she is my band manager.”

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

Krystal N. - “If I had the power I would look to change the way steel pan musicians are being treated. The level of respect from some is undeserving for a steel pan musician.”

WST - “How do view you Panorama - is it a curse or a blessing?”

Krystal N. - “Panorama is a blessing. If there was no Panorama I can’t begin to think, what my life would be like. I thank God for blessing me with this unique talent. Panorama is competitive, yes; however it’s a blessing to have all steel pan players at one venue, on that one night, sharing music and having fun most importantly. That’s a blessing to be thankful for.”

WST - “In 2015 you participated in the International Panorama - how was that experience?”

Krystal N. - “This experience was overwhelming. I got to meet so many steel pan players from around the globe. Another one of my proudest moments, to be able to be an ambassador to my country. Pantime Steel Orchestra sure did make St. Lucia proud.”

WST - “If you could change something in Pan immediately what would that be?”

Krystal N. - “I would change the level of attention that steel pan in schools receives in St. Lucia. There are schools with steel pan instruments and more than likely no steel pan/music teacher; in addition to that there aren’t any activities being held for the steel bands at the school level - for example festivals or an annual schools Panorama.”

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

Krystal N. - “I am most proud of starting up my own steel band (Pantastic Muzik Steel Orchestra) and being able to teach steel pan at school. Giving back to the pan community is most important.”

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

Krystal N. - “I love jazz and soul music and some of my musical influences are Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye to name a few. Their music contributes to inspiring my arrangements most of the time.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Krystal Nestor
Krystal Nestor

Krystal N. - “Panorama to me is the sole avenue where I get to express myself via arranging, letting my creative juices flow; and as a player Panorama for me is where I get to showcase my skills and talent. When I get behind my double seconds or a cello it’s a different Krystal. I love entertaining an audience that has an appreciation for my art.”

WST - “What stands out as your most memorable steel pan experience?”

Krystal N. - “My most memorable steel pan experience is being on stage with my band at our first National Panorama and ranking 2nd in the small band category in 2014.”

WST - “What would you say to encourage more women who want to follow in your footsteps?”

Krystal N. - “For women who want to follow in my footsteps I’d say to them surely this isn’t an easy task but will encourage them to start somewhere. The sooner you get a head start on fulfilling your dream the better. Pay no attention to negativity and stay focused. There will be many obstacles along the way but keep an open mind, be brave and work your hardest to get the job done. What’s important is your dream whatever it may be.”

WST - “Do you have any woman steel pan icons?”

Krystal N. - “Yes, Natasha Joseph from Trinidad & Tobago.”

WST - “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Krystal N. - “In the next five years I see myself and my band Pantastic Muzik being finally settled in our own band home and winning a few Panoramas, and also I see myself reviving the National Combined Schools Steel Orchestra.”

WST - “What is the greatest challenge to Pan in St. Lucia?”

Krystal N. - “St. Lucia’s greatest challenge is not having a proper governing body for steel pan on the island. I believe that the time-frame given to the executive of the National Steel Bands Association to govern and handle the affairs of steel pan should be increased. With maybe four to five years in office, it will give them more time to be get things done right, all in the interest of Pan in St. Lucia.”

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

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