World-renowned pannist Len “Boogsie” Sharpe recently spoke to BBC Caribbean when he was in London. The Trinidadian composer, arranger, and steelband virtuoso, known for his award winning arrangements with the Port of Spain band Phase II Pan Groove, spoke about issues affecting the steelband including the standardization of the instrument. Here is information about Boogsie followed by a link to the BBC Caribbean interview.
Lennox “Boogsie” Sharpe (1953) is considered a cultural icon in Trinidad and Tobago. Led by Boogsie, the three-time panorama champions, Phase II Pan Groove, compete in most of the national steelband competitions throughout the year and are also involved in many shows, entertaining the public of Trinidad and Tobago.
Although Boogsie enters his band to compete in the many competitions, his vision does not involve just winning these competitions. A trophy and prize money are attractive, but what brings true satisfaction to him and the band members is the joy expressed by all followers and supporters of the band and the artform. Even when Phase II comes second or third in a competition, the members all take solace in the fact that the crowd truly enjoyed the music. With thunderous applause and deafening cheers, fans have time and time again expressed their gratitude to the band for bringing them something original and exciting with every new song.
Boogsie composes most of the songs played by the band and several of them are geared towards spontaneous musical creation, or improvisation. This is where one gets to hear the true talents of Mr. Sharpe. His hands move with lightning speed as his creative genius pours out of his very soul, into the steelpan and out into the audience in the forms of harmonious cords and melodies. He has been known to splice songs into other songs at times, leaving the crowd in awe.
Watch interview with Boogsie at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/arts/2010/12/101217_boogsie_sharpe_interview.shtml
Biographical information from http://santiwah.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/06/len-boogsie-sharpe.html and http://www.ecaroh.com/profiles/len_boogsie_sharpe.htm