Asami - The Death of a Panist

WST Steelband Panorama 2016 logo

by WST

March 8, 2014 ˇ Machida, Tokyo, Japan ˇ facebook post
Dear my friends living in Trinidad.
I came home safely. In this journey, companion of many is waiting for me, and gave me a warm welcome.

I was able to meet new friends as well, and was able to get a great experience at the same time. I sincerely love Trinidad. even if I don't go to the beach, don't take a rest, I feel that I can play the steelpan is happiness above all. Especially to play the pan together with ull is the happiness of my best now. I was away from the irreplaceable friends, it is feeling like a hole in my heart empty. Parting of the third year is the most painful ever. Plz contact me at any time. I also. U r away, but U r my friends all the time.
Love, Asami.

-- from Asami

 

This is normally the point in the year when When Steel Talks makes that transition from the all-encompassing Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)  Panorama to focusing on all things Pan all over the world for the rest of the year. Our normal final entry and musical summary of the T&T Panorama espousing the virtues, the excellence, the good, and the bad of this great event got knocked off the rails. Knocked off the rails by the unexpected evil and the ugly.

Asami Nagakiya
Asami Nagakiya

On Wednesday February 10, the worst nightmare of the global steelpan music community was realized. Panist Asami Nagakiya from Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, Japan was found murdered after taking part in the Trinidad and Tobago carnival celebrations and playing mas with the band Legacy.

On Saturday February 6 Asami performed with Silver Stars Steel Orchestra in the 2016 Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama finals. She has been a member of Silver Stars since 2012. Moreover, she has traveled from Japan to Trinidad every year to participate in Panorama. A trained musician by profession, she arrived in Trinidad on January 7, for the 2016 Panorama and Carnival-related season.

Asami was deeply in love with Pan the instrument, the music, the culture, the people and Trinidad. She lived the experience and embodied all that is great about Pan culture in spirit and actuality. At the end of each season her major concern was raising enough funds to ensure she could return to Trinidad the following year.

As the tributes and remembrances pour in from all over the world - it is abundantly clear that Asami Nagakiya was loved by everyone and left an indelible impression on all she interacted with. The legendary Len "Boogsie" Sharpe said Asami "is my Japanese protégé and she was on a journey to greatness."  Marcus Ash -  friend, fellow band mate and drill master of  Silver Stars Steel Orchestra said "She greeted you with a warm embrace and smile every time like it was the first time she was greeting you."

In the wake of this heinous crime, there has been an international outcry for justice for Asami. In addition, there is an ongoing fueled call for the removal of the mayor of Port of Spain for the repulsive, callous and Taliban-like comments he made upon initially addressing her death. A mentality that predominates far too much in Trinidad society -- blaming the victim.

Hopefully, the pain and loss of this major talent will contribute significantly to the changing of attitudes in the Trinbago society that she loved so dearly - it cost Asami her life.

Met with disbelief, news of her death continues to rock the steelpan music world globally.  On social media, there is a continuous outpouring of condolences for her by musicians all over the world, many of whom share pictures and recount happy times with the ace musician. The death of Asami Nagakiya must not be in vain, even as it shines a light on some real issues and age-old attitudes that need to be addressed by the people who live in Trinidad 365 days a year.

Performance

Steelpan player Asami Nagakiya - Dreaming Girl - composed by Asami Nagakiya 長木谷麻美
 

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