Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Nyana Price - Brooklyn, New York

“I remember going to Sesame Flyers’ Saturday program, I was 9 years old. That’s where I met Marc Brooks, K.J., and a few others who are still around now. I started off playing tenor there actually until I started playing with Sonatas. I was too shy to be in the tenor section with people I didn’t know at the time so I went to double tenor with Marc.”

Although she is young in age she is a veteran panist and represents one of New York’s most talented and finest musicians.  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - panist and performing artist Nyana Price 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 Nyana Price?”

Nyana P. - “Both of my parents were born and raised in Trinidad. I have a BA in statistics and I’m currently pursuing my master’s degree. I’ve been playing pan for about 17 years now.”


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

Nyana P. “I remember going to Sesame Flyers’ Saturday program, I was 9 years old. That’s where I met Marc Brooks, K.J., and a few others who are still around now. I started off playing tenor there actually until I started playing with Sonatas. I was too shy to be in the tenor section with people I didn’t know at the time so I went to double tenor with Marc.”


WST - “What kept your passion for the instrument and music going over the years?”

Nyana P. - “I guess I’ve always loved it, even before I knew what it was. My mom told me a story before. She took me down to Trinidad for Carnival,’ I was about a year or 2 and when music trucks would go by; it wouldn’t phase me but a steel band would pass and I would dance and lift up my dress (quite embarrassing when I think of it now). But everyone has that one thing that they can always count on to make them feel better, their safe place, for me it was Pan.”

Nyana Price with Sonatas Steel Orchestra
Nyana Price (in white) with Sonatas Steel Orchestra

WST - “Your Mom has been very supportive of your being a steel pan musician, present on many occasions in the pan yard. Talk about what that has been like.”

Nyana P. - “My mom has always been encouraging, she’s the reason why I started. I remember the first time I told her I didn’t want to play Pan a year, she was so vex with me! Nothing makes her happier than a cold beer and some Pan music, so her natural love for Pan is what makes her presence special.”


WST - “And what do other members of your family think about your involvement in Pan?”

Nyana P. - “One of my aunts is just as supportive as my mom, she’ll come to any show I’m performing in. One of my uncles is a musician, so me playing Pan is a good thing in his eyes, and everyone else is always excited and asking me when they can see me play. My dad is a Mas man but he too loves Pan. He used to play bass for Invaders and he’s still waiting on the day I play with them. He loves that band!”


WST - “What is the greatest challenge facing this current generation of steelpan musicians in Pan?”

Nyana P. - “Lack of respect and too much ego. I’m tired of seeing players fight down the person next to them but yet they’re in the same band. There’s more of a fight to be better than the next individual versus coming together and vibing like family, being a band.”


WST - “Describe your most memorable steelpan musical experience?”

Nyana P. - “Having one of my college professors ask to use my steelpan as part of the class. It was a World Music course.”


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

Nyana P. - “Seeing steelpan musicians push the limits that are placed on the instrument. It’s slowly becoming more traditional in a sense.”


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

Nyana Price, at right
Nyana Price (at right) with fellow panist Natasha Isaac

Nyana P. - “I miss how the bands used to be. Every band supported each other, didn’t matter if you liked them or not. There was a level of respect that was automatically given. Every band moved as a family.”


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

Nyana P. - “"Bring back de old time days!"”


WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Nyana P. - “Panorama is bitter sweet. You work hard all summer to play your heart out for a mere 10 minutes. It’s fun and exciting but also sad because once it’s over, that’s it. Some people you won’t see until the next year and that level of excitement is gone.”


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

Nyana Price with Vincent Hueloy Lila Yip Young
Nyana Price with Vincent Hueloy Lila Yip Young

Nyana P. - “Years ago I would say a blessing. Now I find it to be a curse but only in the sense that we have younger arrangers with deep musical knowledge. I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve within Panorama all the time. Not that everyone can be on top, but it’s almost like they’re too talented for their own good. Music is about perception. A song that makes me sad might make you happy but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t respect each other’s feelings.”


WST - “What other types of music do you listen to outside of Pan?”

Nyana P. - “I’ve been exposed to various genres over the past 7 years so I mainly listen to whatever makes me happy at the moment. But of course I love Soca and Calypso. I always wished I could grow up in the same era as my parents, just for the music.”


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

Nyana P. - “I love how amazed people are by the instrument and I just want it to become more present in different surroundings.”

Nyana Price performing with Sonatas Steel Orchestra




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

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