When Steel Talks

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Musical calling - On the Record with Cliff Alexis

Retired Northern Illinois University Steelband co-director Cliff Alexis (left) poses with a steelpan and current co-director Yuko Asada.

The Mid Week

By KATRINA J.E. MILTON - kmilton@shawmedia.com

When Cliff Alexis moved from Trinidad to America in 1965, he came with $5 in his pocket and the dream of playing the steel drum.

He formed a steelband and traveled around the United States, but somehow, he still felt unsatisfied. It was only when he began teaching steelpan that he says he fulfilled his dream and found his true passion and calling in life.

In 1985, Alexis joined the Northern Illinois University music staff. In September 2016, he retired from his role as co-director of the NIU Steelband. Although he has retired, he continues to perform with the band and compose and arrange its music.

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