DOCUMENTARY: STEEL PAN AT THE FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN IN 1951
REMEMBERING AN ICON OF SOCA & CALYPSO
DOCUMENTARY + REVIEW
The video piece was published in. I stumbled over it while researching the life of the calypsonian Roaring Lion, and I thought it would be great to share it with you. It contains original footage from the event, which only takes place once in a century.
Short Documentary | BBC "The 1951 Festival of Britain "
Length: 5 mins
Here are a few photographs from the event The installations and structures were extra built for this occasion, comparable with an international expo. In the full documentary, you will hear that world war II left still its footprints on the city, while corners still had huge holes in the ground from bomb attacks. Still, the United Kingdom tried to represent as best as it could to leave a good impression and a prosperous vision of Great Britain‘s future. I wonder what the festival will look like in 2051, but let us go back in time now into the year 1951.
Theo Stephens (Free French Steel Orchestra, San Fernando)
Belgrave Bonaparte (Southern Symphony, Oropouche)
Andrew De Labistide (Casablanca Orchestra, Port of Spain)
Philmore Davidson (The Syncopators, Port of Spain)
Patsy Orman Haynes (Casablanca Orchestra, Port of Spain)
Winston "Spree" Simon (Tokyo Steel Orchestra, Port of Spain)
Dudley Smith (Rising Sun, Belmont)
Ellie Mannette (Invaders, Woodbrook - Port of Spain)
Anthony "Skip" Williams (Pan Am North Stars, Port of Spain)
Sterling Betancourt (Crossfire Steel Orchestra, St James)
Feel free to look out for these names on YouTube and you will be amazed by the sweet sounds combined with powerful performances from all over the world.
The following selections shall include pieces, that the musicians performed. The saxophonist and the vocalist stay unidentified, even though somebody in the comments believes the singer is Theo Stephens, I can't confirm 100 %, still it is very possible that also this record was made in the United Kingdom.
I am fascinated of the idea, that this event was a life changer for so many, including the musicians that travelled on a ship that transported bananas overseas from the Caribbean to the UK, to show the world the new invention. I believe for the players, the festival was just one of many magnificent events they performed, but according to the impressions of the documentary, it must have been an overwhelming experience.
While the core idea of the festival was to combine entertainment with science and the futuristic world, it fits perfectly together with the innovative idea that people in Trinidad and Tobago had by creating an instrument out of oil drums, containers, and bamboo pieces of different lengths. Simply, mezmerising! How do you like the impressions from the early 1950s, feel free to comment down below.
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