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NIU steelpan maker, artist Cliff Alexis selected for 2013 Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame

June 24, 2013
Cliff Alexis

Cliff Alexis

NIU’s Cliff Alexis, steel drum builder and tuner and co-director of the world-renowned NIU Steel Band, is among four prominent percussionists chosen for induction to the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.

The induction of the quartet, all important figures who have shaped the percussion world through their innovations, performances and scholarly work, takes place Thursday, Nov. 14, during the 39th annual Percussive Arts Society International Convention at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

Other 2013 inductees are Harold Jones, Gary Olmstead and Salvatore Rabbio.

Alexis is internationally recognized within the steelpan community for his generous contributions as a performer, composer, arranger, tuner, builder and educator.

Born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and playing in various steelbands since age 14, Alexis has performed all over the world for such luminaries as Queen Elizabeth II, the Emperor of Ethiopia and President Senghor of Senegal.

One of the first members of the National Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago in 1964, he moved to the United State in 1965 and became an important educator and clinician.

Percussive Arts Society logoEmployed at the NIU School of Music since 1986, Alexis is equally regarded for his performance, teaching, composing and arranging skills on the instrument of his homeland, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

He has appeared with several university ensembles and played and presented at Elgin Community College, the Birch Creek Music Center, the Singapore Festival of the Arts and the National Institute of the Arts in Taiwan.

His composition “Pan 2000” helped NIU earn second place at the 2000 World Steelband Festival. In 2001, the Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Institute saluted him as “a living legend of pan.”

Alexis won the Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Institute Award for his contribution to the development and education of the steelpan in the United States. Pan Trinbago (the governing body of steelpan) and the government of Trinidad and Tobago bestowed similar recognition for expanding the pan’s global reach.

He is also a member of the Sunshine Hall of Fame.

In 2009, he won an Outstanding Service Award from the NIU Operating Staff Council.