Jerry Lopatin, the originator of the Phoenix based Steele Sound, was one of the first American musicians to learn these unique steel drum instruments native to the Caribbean island of Trinidad back in 1967. Having played professionally in New York City for many years, Jerry was the first musician to introduce the sound of steel drums (pan) to the Valley of the Sun back in 1974. He was most influenced by brothers Jeff and Andy Narell and steel drum innovator, Ellie Mannette. The influence of these icons of the steel drum inspired Jerry on a path of both performance and education. As an educator, he has been spreading the value and knowledge of this beautiful art form for over 40 years.
In 1978, Jerry was hired as the music teacher at Desert Winds Elementary School where he embarked on the creation of what would become the largest elementary steel band program in the nation. Jerry also created and published a rote method book entitled "The Steel Band By Rote", a methodology for music educators to use as an instruction manual to teach beginning steel drum performance ensembles from elementary through high school students.
Jerry's outlet for performance comes by playing with both ensembles, the Steele Sound and the Desert Winds Steel Orchestra. He is currently retired after 36 years of teaching and living in the Valley of the Sun.
Jane LeGore was introduced to the steel drum in Phoenix, Arizona back in 1988 by enrolling in the adult community steel drum program instructed by Jerry. Having remarkable skills from the onset, she began to perform professionally with Jerry in the Steele Sound. Playing steel drums and performing for audiences has become an important creative outlet in Jane's life.
In addition to her love of music & art, Jane is a nutrition and fitness enthusiast, participating in all sorts of running activities. Jane is also an entrepreneur working as a residential Realtor in her own real estate business for the past decade.
Julie Moody was also introduced to the steel drum in Jerry's evening community class in 1997. She, too, discovered a passion for music through learning the drums. Being a remarkably gifted steel drum player, she started to perform professionally with the Steele Sound in 2001. Though she performs with the Steele Sound, Julie has continued her association with the Desert Winds Steel Orchestra and has even introduced steel drums to her church band.
After several years of working in the banking industry, Julie took the most difficult job of all, she became a stay-at-home mom to raise her children. Eventually she returned to work as a teacher's aide. Currently she does hearing screens for newborns at a local Phoenix hospital.