Jeffrey K. Pierre
"Don't Let Your Dream Die, Because If It Can Be Conceived, Then It Can Be Achieved"
As submitted by Jeffrey Pierre
The twin island of Trinidad and Tobago, along with Henry Best and Rita Best has produced a musical connoisseur of universal dept. Jeffrey Pierre, Steelpan Virtuoso is the founder/President of Unique Sound "Ablest" Inc., Music Teacher at New Vista Academy, Musical Director of “Wee” Care Child Network, Musical Director of Unique Sound Symphony.
For the past 30 years Jeffrey Pierre - “Jeffers” as he is affectionately known in the ‘Pan’ world - has been hypnotizing and mesmerizing audiences all over the world. Jeffers began playing the steelpan at the tender age of thirteen, with West side symphony - then Pan Am North Starts.
Under the leadership of the great master of the art form, Mr. Herman ‘Rock’ Johnston, Jeffers' steelpan career began with West Side Symphony. The Symphony won the coveted World Steel band Music Festival in Trinidad. West Side Symphony was the first steel band in the event's history to win the title of best-playing steel band after being together for a period of only ten months. Next came Radio City Music Hall in the city of lights, New York. The city was everything young Jeffers expected and more. The Symphony played to sold-out audiences at Radio City Music Hall for four weeks. At the end of the Symphony’s engagement they were asked to extend their tour for an additional five weeks.
Then came the beautiful Caribbean, which Jeffers toured for weeks with the Symphony; next was the Wine Festival in St. Catherine, Canada for two weeks. Another highlight of Jeffers' musical career was his performance at New York‘s Carnegie Hall in 1970 and 1971.
In 1972, Jeffers was invited to accompany the Julia Edwards Dance Company for a six-month engagement in Japan. His performance and stage presence was just so awe-inspiring he was invited to extend his stay as a solo artist at the end of the Dance Company engagement; this extension lasted two years.
Jeffrey ‘Jeffers’ Pierre was now given a new title in addition to his many, for e.g. innovator, musical virtuoso, connoisseur of the steelpan, pan designer, pan tuner, arranger of steelpan music; now he was credited with “Pan Pioneer to the East”.
“Jeffers” made an important contribution to the steel pan by introducing the instrument to the Japanese people, by way of capably demonstrating the playing of classical, jazz, calypso, reggae, R&B, pop, and the Japanese traditional music on the steel pan, making it impossible to speak of the steel pan in Japan without mentioning Jeffery Pierre. At the end of his two years in Japan, Jeffers stayed in his home land of Trinidad for one year, after which he migrated to the United States of America.
In the spring of 1985 Jeffers invited a group of family and friends, children to form a steelband, which was named “J P-Grass Roots”, the very first children’s steel band in New York City and State. The band was also given a $10,000 dollar grant from the then-Mayor of New York City, Mr. Beam. Everybody’s Magazine - seeing the gift Mr. Pierre had for dealing with children, decided to invest the magazine’s time and money into Mr. Pierre and the children, via sponsorship of the band. At that time the band’s name was changed to “Sound of Steel”.
Another credit to Jeffers is the birth of CASYM Steel Orchestra, which came out of “Sound of Steel. “In 1990, Mr. Pierre saw there was a crisis among children in his neighborhood, in and around the Vandeever area of Brooklyn. With at least 75% of the children being of low-income, single female parent Caribbean background, Mr. Pierre met with each and every parent and child, also their teachers. This was the start of a new steel band by the name of “Youth On Pan”. Without a sponsor, the burden was left to Jeffers. With help from the parents, Jeffers once again went into his pocket to finance the band. This single act of selflessness has not only enriched the cultural life of the children but also provided them with an avenue to share their creative talent with the world.
The band played at several private Colleges and Universities, along with CUNY (City University of New York) and SUNY (State University of New York) schools, which made a big impact on the lives of the young men and women of the band. Some of the children got applications on-site for the college or university they were playing at, filled them out and were admitted into college by the following semester.
Jeffers' dream has always been to help children in anyway, in which they might need that help. He wants the children to feel safe, free and loved. With this aim, Jeffers formed Unique Sound "Ablest" Inc. and incorporated the organization in the fall of 2002, as a not for-profit organization, with the 501c3 status pending.
Out of Unique Sound "Ablest" Inc. came Unique Sound Symphony and Jeffers to the children’s rescue once more. Unique Sound Symphony is a steel band symphony, which has twenty members at present. The symphony and Mr. Pierre have formed an association with “Wee” Care Child Care Network to bring steel pan music to group and family childcare providers' homes. By introducing the steel pan to the pre-school children, he hopes to bring a sound and culture so unique it would enhance and enrich the children lives culturally, socially and academically.
“Take all the college courses you want, accumulate all the degrees your wall can hold, and that’s still not a substitute for experience. That’s one thing I’ve learned in my thirty-five years in this field of music. Of course, I have learned more in that time and I would put that experience to work in my organization UNIQUE SOUND "ABLEST" INC.”