The acceptance of steelbands grew when middle-class, lighter-skinned, and white young people started getting involved, often over the strenuous objections of their parents, teachers, friends, and relatives. Curtis Pierre became involved in 1949:
“I took the instrument home and I got enough flak from my parents, ‘What the hell you doing with this thing here? I don’t care who plays that. This is the underprivileged.’” (1983:1). “The grouping in my band would be considered a little above middle class, which was anathema, that kind of thing was just not done by people in that class.” (ibid. :2).
Pierre attributes to his group the change in the degree to which steelbandsmen and women are accepted in society:
“We have been told it’s because of our group…that… ‘You fellas made a breakthrough. You guys don’t realize what you did. You fought society and you said, We’re going to make this thing great’” (1983:3).
Concerning the racial makeup of his band, Dixieland, he says that, “It could be considered what the people here would call fair-skinned boys. And there was not a predominance of Negroes in it at all, mainly because that was what middle class meant in those days. And that’s true, middle class had a certain color. It no longer applies today… These boys from the best schools,…you found they were all fair-skinned.” (ibid. :6).
A sad day for all of us who played and were close to Curtis. You know who you are. From Stromboli to Dixieland on the road you brought pride and dignity to all of us from Belmont. Amidst all the highlights of my life, being a musician/pan man with you and later Junior and our stage sides in fetes together at Palm Beach and elsewhere will forever be near the top of the list.
. I was a member of Dixieland steelband from 1954 to 1956. I migrated to the USA. It was a privilege to play with Curtis as the arranger . Kenneth Johnson and Miguel Barradas I am speaking for too. My Condolence to his brother Ian. Curtis enjoy the new band you are going to start up there.