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The 4th Biennial Steelpan Conference

'From Empire Windrush to the London 2012 Olympics; An Epic Journey for Steelpan, Calypso and Mas'


Lord Kitchener was one of the many passengers that the S. S. Empire Windrush brought to London in 1948. The footage of him singing ‘London is the place for me’ has been used countless times by the media to epitomise the arrival of West Indians to the UK. These immigrants, and those who followed, often faced formidable hardships which made them even more determined to show resilience and fortitude; elements of which were manifested in their arts.

United by cricket, both on and off the field, calypso and steelpan provided West Indians with the driving force to celebrate these trying years as their legendary heroes provided the impetus to celebrate. C.L.R. James noted that the impact of this era went beyond the game in his book ‘Beyond a Boundary’. The seeds of multicultural Britain was sown as steelband pushed carnival onto the streets of Notting Hill, a high point in British West Indian arts which was depicted in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Nostalgia, London’s oldest steelband, formed part of Caribbean arts brought to Britain, while choreography representing the Windrush passengers and the Notting Hill carnival costumes of Mahogany illuminated the stage. To have achieved such prominence in British arts in just over 60 years, and to have been such an integral part of one of the world's biggest events, is real testimony to the remarkable commitment and contribution made by musicians and artists since those early days when Lord Kitchener sang 'London is the place for me' in 1948. He foretold the mission of many pioneers from the Caribbean, who made London and other UK cities their new home and fused their culture into the British art form. This conference celebrates this epic journey and aims to map out some of the prominent moments in this short history that transformed the creative perception of our people and gained their respect and admiration in Britain.

Some key presentations and performances:

Plenary Lecturer: Dawn Batson; “The Triumph of Steelpan”

Other speakers include:

Suzanne Burke, Keith Musaman Morton, Laila Shah, Colin Salmon, Fiona Hawthorne, Haroun Shah, Stephon Phillip, Ansel Wong, Nicole Rachelle Moore, Alexander D Great, Celia Burgess-Macey, Cleo Guiste, Kemi Sobers, Carole Morrison, Greta Mendez, Ray Funk, Ruth Thompsett, Faustin Charles, Fred Totesaut, Marvin Barbe, Jacqueline Roberts, Andre Rostant, Josephine Scorer, Andy Smith, Robbie Joseph, Grafton Yearwood, Toussaint Clarke, Nestor Sullivan

Click to download the full conference book here

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