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Alexander D. Great

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Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Alexander grew up in London from the age of five. On leaving school in the mid 1960s he became a professional musician/songwriter, creating his own style from a mix of Beatles, Blues and Baroque music. In the early 1970s he spent a year in the USA playing with a 50 - piece band. There he learned to arrange and orchestrate, after which he took a BA in Music at Dartington College, followed by a PGCE at Roehampton. He has taught music at secondary and tertiary levels as well as musicianship and composition to degree students at Brunel University. Alex has also presented lectures/seminars on Calypso at the universities of Huddersfield, Leeds, Nottingham, Queen's University, Belfast and Morley College, London.

After a 30 - year career playing a variety of music including Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Reggae Alex returned to his calypso roots in the late 1980s creating his own fusion, Socablues. In 1998 Alex wrote the first full - length calypso opera, "Rumshop" staged at the Lyric Theatre, West London.

Publications include poems for "Hello New" (pub. 2000, Orchard Books), "Velocity" (pub. 2003, Black Spring Press), a chapter on Calypso for the Arts Council's Carnival book "On Route" (pub. 2003, X-Press) and a chapter in "Creative Learning, 3-11 and How We Document It" (with Celia Burgess-Macey, pub. 2008, Trentham Books). Ethnomusicologist Professor Tina K. Ramnarine has done a fairly substantial assessment of Alexander's work in her study of the Caribbean diaspora "Beautiful Cosmos" (pub. 2007, Pluto Press).

As well as coaching young up and coming calypsonians for the Association of British Calypsonians (ABC) Alex divides his time between running a 10- piece band, his own small record label and doing calypso/poetry workshops in schools and colleges in the UK and the Caribbean. He has appeared several times on TV and Radio in Trinidad, Dominica and the UK (including both BBC and ITV). Since February 2000 he has been Calypsonian – in- Residence for the BBC for whom he delivers current news-based calypsos. Alexander was UK Calypso Monarch in 2010 and 2011.

Pepe Francis

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Augustine Leith Francis (better known as Pepe Francis), Chairman of the British Association of Steelbands and Director of the Ebony Steelband Trust (read more) was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list to receive a MBE for services to steel pan music. Pepe has been at the forefront of the steel band community, and indeed the UK carnival arts sector, for over thirty years.

Carl Gabriel

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Carl Gabriel is a resident carnivalist at the Yaa Centre. He is renowned for his wire sculptures. This process has taken Carl and Lynette to countries and venues including, America, India, German, National Museums and Galleries. Together with his wife Lynette he specializes in the traditional carnival Art-form known as wire-bending. This is a unique style of using wire in the construction of carnival sculpture and street art.

London Notting Hill Celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the Steel Pan

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Russell Henderson MBE and Sterling Betancourt MBE are two Steel - pan Pioneers, who played a significant role in the shaping of the London Notting Hill Carnival.

Sterling Betancourt was born 1 March 1930 in Laventille, Trinidad. In his early years, he was a member of one of the local Laventille Tamboo Bamboo bands until he became a tenor pan player in Tripoli steelband. He later progressed to become a band member and the tuner for Crossfire, a steelband he was more notably associated to during the 1940s. His skills on the pans earned him selection for TASPO tour England and Paris. This tour became a defining point in his career as he decided to remain in England with his pan and promote this new found musical art form.

Sterling Betancourt is also noted for being one of the founders of the Nostalgia Steelband. Again in keeping with tradition, this band was a pan around the neck steelband.

Betancourt has taken Pan to many countries throughout Europe and Asia and as recognition for his contribution he was awarded Trinidad and Tobago’s Scarlet Ibis award, a University of East London Fellowship, an M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire) and made a member of F.R.S.Afor his commitment in promoting steelpan culture throughout the United Kingdom, and pioneering steelpan projects in English schools.

In 2001 Sterling Betancourt was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) Russell Henderson was born 1924 in Belmont Port Of Spain, Trinidad. Henderson learned to play the piano as a young man growing up in Trinidad and, by late 1940s, had formed his own quartet. He went on to provide background music for many local recordings by calypsonians such as Roaring Lion, Mighty Growler, and Lord Pretender. He was the pianist for Beryl Mc Burnie’s Dance Troupe at the Little Carib Theatre where he gained some valuable Knowledge of the steelband while teaching correct melodies to Ellie Mannette of the Invaders Steelband who also performed there. Russell Henderson left Trinidad for England in 1951 to Study piano tuning but landed a job as a pianist within two weeks of his arrival. In 1952, he quit his studies and formed his own band playing both Jazz and calypso music. He later integrated pan music into his band’s performance, after he had learned to play pan upon his arrival in England. While in England, Russell Henderson teamed up with Fitroy Coleman and Rupert Nurse to accompany Lord Kitchener in his recordings.

In 1952, Sterling Betancourt joined forces with a fellow Trinidadian musician, pianist Russell Henderson, to record some of Henderson’s piano music. Later the Russ Henderson Steel Band was formed along with Mervyn Constantine. Brothers Ralph and Max Cherrie joined the band replacing Mervyn who left for personal reasons. By the mid 1960s the band performed as a steelband and a jazz band at various venues throughout London.

In 2006 he was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Russell Henderson was born 1924 in Belmont Port Of Spain, Trinidad.

Henderson learned to play the piano as a young man growing up in Trinidad and, by late 1940s, had formed his own quartet. He went on to provide background music for many local recordings by calypsonians such as Roaring Lion, Mighty Growler, and Lord Pretender. He was the pianist for Beryl Mc Burnie’s Dance Troupe at the Little Carib Theatre where he gained some valuable Knowledge of the steelband while teaching correct melodies to Ellie Mannette of the Invaders Steelband who also performed there.

Russell Henderson left Trinidad for England in 1951 to Study piano tuning but landed a job as a pianist within two weeks of his arrival. In 1952, he quit his studies and formed his own band playing both Jazz and calypso music. He later integrated pan music into his band’s performance, after he had learned to play pan upon his arrival in England. While in England, Russell Henderson teamed up with Fitroy Coleman and Rupert Nurse to accompany Lord Kitchener in his recordings.

In 1952, Sterling Betancourt joined forces with a fellow Trinidadian musician, pianist Russell Henderson, to record some of Henderson’s piano music. Later the Russ Henderson Steel Band was formed along with Mervyn Constantine. Brothers Ralph and Max Cherrie joined the band replacing Mervyn who left for personal reasons. By the mid 1960s the band performed as a steelband and a jazz band at various venues throughout London.

In 2006 he was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

STEEL PAN AND NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL

In 1964 creating a nostalgic atmosphere in relation to the tradition of the Trinidad carnival, the steelband began an impromptu march through the streets, enticing some of the onlookers to take part in the procession.

A defining point for the band came in 1965 when the band was invited to play at the revived London Fair in Notting Hill. The invite came from Rhaune Laslette, a

Notting Hill resident and local social worker,who was organising the event.

This led to the start of the Notting Hill Carnival in 1965 with the steelband music as the music of choice.

Link for story: http://www.mypanyard.co.uk/Exports-Betancourt-London.html