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Tuesday 20 August 2019
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Tributes for panman Cliff Alexis

Clifford Alexis at his graduation on May 12, 2017. Photo courtesy When Steel Talks
Clifford Alexis at his graduation on May 12, 2017. Photo courtesy When Steel Talks

TRIBUTES continued to pour in on for Dr Clifford Alexis, pan specialist, retired educator, composer, tuner and arranger, who died in the US on Tuesday at 82.

Last year on Republic Day, Alexis was given a Chaconia Medal (Silver) for his long and meritorious service to TT in the sphere of culture.

Ace pan composer, arranger, educator and player Ray Holman, a close friend of Alexis, told Newsday yesterday: “Cliff was a great friend and a great person. I am truly saddened by his passing because I knew he had some challenges with his health, being diabetic and then suffering a heart attack about three years ago.

“But after that he changed his diet and was doing very well, so this came as a shock to me.” Holman spoke of Alexis’ work in glowing terms. “He had done so much for steelband in the United States. As a matter of fact he was at the forefront of education for pan players in the US, encouraging many to play pan too. He was a pillar at Northern Illinois University (NIU).”

Holman said they shared the stage at many concerts in the US, and Alexis was an asset to steelband, taking it to all parts of the world including Japan, Hong Kong and India. “He was a true cultural ambassador.”

In 1964, 22 members of the TT National Steelband toured the US and created pan history. Alexis was among the outstanding players picked for that tour. In 1985, he became a member of the staff of NIU, working as a steelpan builder, tuner, composer and arranger.

While there, he was responsible for mapping out a path for other outstanding TT players to follow, among them Prof Liam Teague, Seion Gomez and Dr Mia Gormandy-Benjamin. Alexis received an award from Pan Trinbago in 2006, and in 2017, received an honorary doctorate from the NIU.

Composer, arranger and pan player Robbie Greenidge said: “Dr Cliff Alexis was very dear friend of mine, I have known him for so many years in pan. He was always encouraging young players to learn the instrument all over the US, and was also a great tuner and player. He started the programme at NIU where players can get their degree in music.”

The US-based Greenidge, who also plays with the celebrated Jimmy Buffett band, said Alexis attended all his shows in the Chicago area and Alphine Valley every year.

“Now that he has moved on to the other side may is soul rest in peace and God’s blessing RIP.”

Composer Mark Loquan said: “Cliff has had an amazing journey and has made an invaluable contribution to so many people and for TT. He was always willing to share his music, skills, and knowledge and will surely be missed. Condolences to (his wife) Yuko, Liam, the NIU family and friends. A lost treasure.”

Radio host and founder of Caribbean Communications Incorporated Von Martin, who is based in Washington, DC, also sent his condolences to Alexis’s family and the global pan fraternity, saying, “We have now lost another of our cultural heroes within the steelpan movement. We are aware that we are not here to stay, but it is always difficult to lose someone

who has contributed so much to the growth of our national instrument, pan. Cliff’s contributions to the advancement of the steelpan will never be forgotten. as he personally impacted the awareness and the growth of pan globally. What a legacy!”

On Tuesday, Beverley Ramsey-Moore, president of Pan Trinbago, expressed her deepest condolences to Alexis’ immediate family and the pan fraternity. She described Alexis as a steelpan enthusiast, a cultural icon and son of the soil who wasan ambassador for TT, saying he will be sorely missed, and wished God’s comfort to all those

who were blessed with the opportunity to have met him.

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