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Tearful tributes to ‘Trini at heart’

Published: 
Friday, February 12, 2016

Murdered Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya was among a group of her compatriots who played mas with Legacy on Carnival Tuesday and had been with the band up to 1 pm that day, but wasn’t seen after that, Legacy bandleader Mike “Big Mike” Antoine said last night.

Dressed completely in black, Antoine spoke about Nagakiya’s last Carnival to a gathering at PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars’ Newtown panyard, where pannists from Silver Stars, All Stars, four other bands she played with on occasion, friends and others paid tribute to her.

Members said the Rosary and sang hymns before testimonials about the young musician.

Antoine opened his contribution by saying the last time she was seen was in one of his costumes, so it was fitting for him to speak. He said Nagakiya was one of 12 Japanese visitors who played in his band.

“I would always look after the group,” he said twice.

Antoine said on Carnival Tuesday he was still looking out for the group and when they left the Queen’s Park Savannah and went to Adam Smith Square, Nagakiya was still with the band up to 1 pm. But he said when Legacy went downtown “I didn’t see her”.

He said after assisting police with trying to identify the body all day, he finally got confirmation it was Nagakiya late Monday.

He said the Japanese group were “the sweetest girls.”

“They give everybody ah wine and a kiss and jump up ... Today is a sad day for T&T and for Carnival,” he said.

A female bandmate of Nagakiya, Nikita, broke into tears when she related moving text messages that Nagakiya had sent to her asking to be her friend and for her to stay in touch since she wanted to learn more English.

“She was a gem, a true gem,” she said.

Band arranger Marcus Ash, another Silver Stars colleague, said: “She was more Trini than the average Trini. She knew all about chaddon beni and our culture. I took the group to the beach and gave them a sip of puncheon rum and Asami screamed and ran into the water. She played with many bands and it was never for a price. She was very well known in the pan fraternity and she did it all out of love.”

Ash, colleague Junior “Peppy” Goolcharan and other Silver Stars colleagues also slammed comments made in relation to Nagakiya’s death by Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee, saying they were “out of place”, “disrespectful”, “very disgusting” and “completely inappropriate”. They added that she never engaged in vulgar behaviour, didn’t even know how to wine and dressed modestly, but knew her way around the city. (See Page A5)