He is not yet a big name like Len “Boogsie” Sharpe or Ken “Professor” Philmore, but Noel La Pierre is surely making a name for himself locally and internationally. His resume is impressive for a young musician who plays the pan, which is his voice. He stresses that he is a musician and is classified as one when he tours with two pans, the conventional tenor pan and the Percussive Harmonic Instrument (PHI), which he endorses. However, he is unhappy with local clients who fail to see the need to pay him in a timely manner. “When you call them, they feel you are harassing them. Sometimes you have to wait two to three months after a gig to get paid,” La Pierre says. “The life of a musician in Trinidad and Tobago is hard. There isn’t much happening.”
However, that has not deterred La Pierre, who is coming off performances in Toronto, Canada, in a concert called Sons of Steel which featured brothers Earl La Pierre Jnr and Olujimi la Pierre, and dad, Earl La Pierre Snr. Sons of Steel is a concert designed to showcase the work of the three unique instrumentalists, and is dedicated to their grandmother, Norma Adele Peter. In November, Trinis will get their fill of Sons of Steel, which will be held at the Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre. However, La Pierre, a troubadour who plays the pan, celebrates 42 years as a pan musician, starting with Invaders Steel Orchestra, then moving on to Phase II Pan Groove before going solo on his pan odyssey. This journey has taken him to Caribbean islands, North America, Latin America, Japan, Switzerland, India, Nigeria, South Africa and China (twice). It was in China that he discovered that it was virgin territory for a pan musician. In 2011 at the Shanghai Expo, La Pierre was a hit at the T&T booth.
Thousands of Chinese listened to his artistry on the pan, which also won him the title of the Best Participating Artiste in the Shanghai International Arts Festival. In China he conducted workshops and was the featured artiste of a Chinese steelband. He returned to China in May of this year and had another successful tour. His list of achievements is outstanding. Among them are the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) World Jazz/Music Composer Award 2008 for his composition One And Only, and three albums under his belt—Water Flow, A Beautiful Revue On Pan and The First Noel, a Christmas album. La Pierre has scored a major first as the only pan musician to play the national anthems of 19 countries at the International Caribbean Congress in Aruba and St Maarten.