Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form


Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Daneisha Frederick - Queens, New York

“....I have no personal preference when it comes to performing or teaching. I love the idea of performing. The energy behind it. The goose bumps from playing that sweet part in a song is the best feeling; but also teaching is a great feeling.” 

She is a self-described “Carnival Baby” - simply destined to play mas and pan from jump-street.   After falling in love with Pan at an early age she has since blossomed into one of the key fixtures and players in New York’s renowned CASYM Steel Orchestra. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - the multitalented musician, educator and performing panist Daneisha Frederick shares her thoughts, experiences, and insight into the Steelband music art form and more.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about yourself - who is Neisha?”

Daneisha F. - “My name is Daneisha Frederick from Queens, New York. I was raised to embrace my culture and to always know where I came from. I like to call myself a “Carnival Baby” considering I’ve been playing mas since I was a baby and started to play pan at the age of 15. I love everything about music, and the concept behind a song or arrangement. Plus it’s a great stress reliever.”

WST - “How did your involvement in Pan begin; when and how did you first become aware of the steelpan instrument?”

Daneisha F. - “I was always aware of the steelpan considering I played carnival every year. When I turned 14, my cousins, my brother Kyle, and I decided to play steelpan. Looked up a few bands, but once I saw CASYM I felt right at home.”

WST - “What made you fall in love with the art form and its music?”

Daneisha F. - “Well I love every form of art. I’m very much into graphical art, but music is my passion beyond passion. I lose myself in music. The whole idea that this beat can be turned into this sound; or this note sounds like this, is amazing to me.”

Daneisha Frederick playing mas as a youngster
Daneisha Frederick playing mas as a youngster

WST - “You are a member of New York’s CASYM Steel Orchestra. How did that come about?”

Daneisha F. - “I love carnival and I was already playing mas so I wanted to finally play pan after prolonging it for so many years. My cousins and I decided we wanted to all play together so we signed up to play for CASYM. At the time my brother was around 4 years old so he was the youngest playing in the band and it just became a family thing we all did together.”

WST - “Talk about your experiences and travels with the orchestra?”

Daneisha F. - “Traveling with the band was always one of the best experiences. Whether it be a performance in the Bronx or an overnight trip to the Poconos or a random trip to Six Flags, we always have a great bonding experience. We become closer as a band and friends.”

WST - “In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge Pan faces in New York?”

Daneisha F. - “I think one big challenge is that pan isn’t getting the full recognition that it truly deserves. I fear that pan is losing its way in New York, but we as a community have to build it back up. Travel more OUTSIDE of Brooklyn to get more exposure.”

Daneisha Frederick
Daneisha Frederick

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

Daneisha F. - “I have the utmost respect for Duvone Stewart. Since 2008 I watched and listened to a few of his arrangements and was very intrigued. However, my favorite arranger will have to be Arddin Herbert. His style is pure energy and I’m like a little bouncing bean when I’m behind my pan so it works perfectly.”

WST - “You are both a performing panist and educator; how do the roles complement each other, and which do you prefer?”

Daneisha F. - “Well, to be a great teacher you have to have a certain level of experience. I can’t teach someone how to roll or even hold a stick without knowing how to. I also can’t tell someone the experiences of playing before a crowd if I’ve never done it before. That’s how they complement each other. However, I have no personal preference when it comes to performing or teaching. I love the idea of performing. The energy behind it. The goose bumps from playing that sweet part in a song is the best feeling; but also teaching is a great feeling. I love to drill and make sure everyone has the music that they’re missing. I used to coach basketball so I have that experience in teaching and that is a great feeling.”

WST - “What is the greatest challenge facing this current generation of steelpan musicians - from both an educator’s perspective and that of a player?”

Daneisha F. - “Lack of respect for not only the steel pan, but for each other. We have to take better care of the instruments, but also respect one another. There’s too many “fights” [disagreements] that happen in the pan community. We have to learn to work together to keep pan alive in New York because it’s slowly fading away.”

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

Daneisha F. - “Aside from pan I also DJ, so my passion for music will NEVER die. As far as pan, I love every bit of it. The sound that comes from a steel pan is the sweetest sound to me. (As long as there’s no ‘slamming’)”

Daneisha Frederick performs with CASYM at the 2013 New York Panorama
Daneisha Frederick performs with CASYM at the 2013 New York Panorama

WST - “Are there any other instruments you play?”

Daneisha F. - “My very first instrument was the guitar. I LOVE the guitar. And even though I play the steel pan now, I still love the guitar. I have played the keyboard a few times, but I wouldn’t say I’m perfect at it. Percussion is a thing that I LOVE and I play the congas when I’m not behind my double tenor.”

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

Daneisha F. - “I don’t think I would change anything because so much is changing as we speak.”

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

Daneisha F. - “I would have to say, seeing younger kids get involved. Seeing a wide range of young kids being interested in pan makes me very proud, because they are the next generation.”

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

Daneisha F. - “Lack of sponsorship. Every band needs a sponsor.”

WST - “Being female, were you ever cautioned or perhaps even dissuaded in any way, from becoming involved in the steelband art form?”

Daneisha F. - “No.”

WST - “Do you believe women are finally getting the acknowledgment and opportunities they deserve?”

Daneisha F. - “Maybe not ALL of the acknowledgement, but women are definitely being recognized more.”

WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female panists all over the world who are dreaming of becoming involved with the steelpan instrument as a career move?”

Daneisha F. - “Don’t let anyone stop you from doing whatever it is that you want to do. Whatever you want to do, do it and do it well.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Daneisha F. - “Panorama is one of the greatest shows in music. Not only that but it’s a day of togetherness and unity, with a taste of competitiveness.”

Daneisha Frederick
Daneisha Frederick

WST - “Overall, is Panorama a curse or blessing from your perspective?”

Daneisha F. - “It can be a mixture of both. It can be a curse because it can make or break a band. It can cause tension with players and other bands. However, it’s a blessing because you can see the joy and happiness amongst the players.”

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

Daneisha F. - “For it to be mainstream. I need it to be more recognizable and not the cliché, generic, way that it’s always being displayed.”

WST - “Are there any other steelband-related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Daneisha F. - “Not at this time, but I will like to thank you for allowing me to share a bit of me and my thoughts and opinions.”

photos # 1 & # 2 provided by D. Frederick

   Daneisha performs with CASYM Steel Orchestra in preparation for the 2017 New York Panorama

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