Focus on World Music: the steel pan
August 23, 2013

In Britain, Caribbean music is a huge part of our modern cultural heritage, due to the original pioneers of reggae travelling to these shores in the 1940s and 1950s.

The first and most famous journey was on the 22nd June 1948 when a ship called the Empire Windrush entered Tilbury Port in Essex. Most of its passengers were looking for work in the UK – many were musicians, including the revered Trinidadian Calypso musician Lord Kitchener, and they were in search of work within the thriving British music scene.

In 1951 the Festival of Britain featured a calypso steel band – Britain had never seen anything like this before. Immigration from the Windies was to increase throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, bringing with it, first Calypso music and then, Ska reggae. But it was around this time that that the famous Notting Hill carnival arrived, and it too was to have a huge influence on the British music scene. What is often referred to as the golden era of reggae, was heralded by Bob Marley in the late ‘70s, travelling into the ‘80s. The ‘90s were a lot quieter in terms of breakthrough Caribbean acts, although there was ragga which was a big deal for a while. Of course dubstep is now the new kid in town!

Blind and partially sighted people can borrow our wonderful Touch to See book World Music, a vibrant musical journey around the world, from our free library. This book contains 13 tactile pictures of instruments from around the world including the steel pan, along with atmospheric audio guides by musicians, and a world music playlist to inspire you all.

Enjoy this YouTube video for a taster of World Music.

Borrow this book from our library.

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