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Cliff Alexis

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Clifford Alexis (1937-2019) was a Trinidadian composer, arranger, steelpan builder/tuner/performer.

Cliff Alexis
BornClifford Alexis
1937, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
Resting place2019, DeKalb, Illinois, USA
🏳️ Nationality
💼 Occupation
Composer, Arranger, Musician, Steelpan Builder/Tuner
Notable workPan 2000, Step Up, Summer Song
🏡 Home townPort of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
🌐 Websitehttps://www.niu.edu/music/meet-us/bio/alexis.shtml


Alexis was born in Trinidad in 1937, and came to the U.S. in 1964 as a member of the Trinidad and Tobago National Steelband. During the 1950's he played large roll in the Port of Spain steelpan community as a performer and arranger, before being selected to travel with the National Steelband.

During the first decade of his time in the US, Alexis worked as a traveling musician and performer in both live and recorded performances. He had several bands under his direction over that period of time. From the mid 1970's he was employed by the St. Paul, Minnesota public schools as a steelband director. It was during that time that Alexis developed his skills as a steelpan builder and tuner while also honing his talents as an educator. He received the prestigious Minneapolis/St. Paul "Outstanding Black Musician" award twice in his 12 years in. In addition to his formidable skill as a pan builder and tuner, Cliff is an outstanding composer, arranger and performer. He was commissioned by the Percussive Arts Society to compose and arrange all the music for a mass steelband concert during the 1987 International Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.

In 1985 Alexis joined the staff of the Northern Illinois University School of Music at the invitation of Al O'Connor, and in addition to his responsibilities for maintaining and upgrading the school's growing inventory of steelpans, Cliff co-directed the NIU Steelband with Liam Teague. [1]

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • Steelband Director at Northern Illinois University
  • Steelpan Instrument Technician at Northern Illinois University[2]
  • Winner of the Trinidad and Tobago Chaconia Medal (Silver) [3]
  • Honorary Doctorate Recipient for his Outstanding Achievements in Steelpan[4]
  • Emmy Award Nomination for "Best Original Composition in a Documentary" and "Special Event Coverage"[5]
  • Two-Time winner of the Minneapolis/St. Paul "Outstanding Black Musician" Award


  1. {{Cite web|url=http://www.maumaumusic.com/proddetail.asp?prod=Cliff_Alexis&cat=51/ |title=Cliff Alexis Artist Bio|website=MauMauMusic|language=en-US|access-date=2019-02-12}
  2. {{Cite web|url=https://www.niu.edu/music/meet-us/bio/alexis.shtml%7Ctitle=Cliff Alexis - NIU - School of Music|website=NIU|language=en-US|access-date=2019-02-12}
  3. {{Cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/national-awardees-2018-6.2.674429.db108a93a0/%7Ctitle=National Awardees 2018|website=Trinidad and Tobago Guardian|language=en-US|access-date=2019-02-12}
  4. {{Cite web|url=https://www.niutoday.info/2017/04/19/niu-to-honor-cliff-alexis-the-stradivarius-of-the-steelpan/ |title=NIU to honor Cliff Alexis-'the Stradivarious of the Steelpan' |website=NIUToday|language=en-US|access-date=2019-02-12}
  5. {{Cite web|url=https://www.uakron.edu/music/faculty/bio-detail.dot?u=dudack%7Ctitle=Matt Dudack |website=UAkron|language=en-US|access-date=2019-02-12}

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