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NIU steel drum musician Cliff Alexis collects two Emmy nominations for ‘Hammer on Steel’

May 15, 2012
Cliff Alexis

Cliff Alexis

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) has nominated “Hammer on Steel,” a two-program documentary created by The University of Akron, for eight Emmy awards for the 2011 broadcast year.

NIU’s Cliff Alexis, steel drum builder and tuner and co-director of the world-renowned NIU Steel Band, was nominated for Emmy Awards in two categories – Special Event Coverage and Best Music Composition – for his work on the film.

Documenting the compelling and conflict-torn history of steel drum music in the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago, “Hammer on Steel: Bad Boys and Genius” premiered in February 2011 on Western Reserve Public Media in Northeast Ohio. The second program, “Hammer on Steel: The Concert,” documents the University of Akron Steel Drum Band’s 30th anniversary concert.

“Hammer on Steel” earned the Emmy nominations in the Lower Great Lakes chapter of NATAS’ competition. The nominations are in categories ranging from Live Event Coverage to Best Original Score.

The awards ceremony will be held Saturday, June 2, in Indianapolis.

“We made ‘Hammer on Steel’ to tell the world about this wonderful music and the self-taught musicians who created it – many of whom are now elderly and won’t be with us much longer,” says Larry Snider, the University of Akron music professor who founded the UA Steel Drum Band in 1980. “We also wanted to tell the unlikely story of how the Caribbean sounds of the steel drums have found a home in less-than-tropical Northeast Ohio.”

“I am proud of the team that worked on ‘Hammer on Steel’,” adds Phill Hoffman, producer and director of the UA School of Communication. “From Trinidad to Akron, exceptional artists and educators came together to create the documentary. We hope this attention shines a light on the heritage, people and artistry of steel drum music.”