Tributes to teacher who brought Caribbean pan sounds to Leeds

StClair Morris
StClair Morris
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FRIENDS and colleagues have paid tribute to StClair Morris, who became the first teacher in Leeds to offer instruction in Caribbean-style music played on the steel pan.

Mr Morris, who died last week, had come to Yorkshire from St Kitts at 16, and was also a lay preacher and a roadie for other bands.

Deciding eventually to form his own outfit, he put together the Paradise Steel Band nearly 60 years ago. It was still playing on the week of his death.

He became the first steel pan teacher in Leeds and probably England when schools were allocated money to help combat racism and promote arts from other cultures, at which point the Leeds Music Support Service bought a set of steel pans.

Among his former pupils are players who now run their own bands and at least one whose career has included a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

The annual carnival in Chapeltown was a highlight of his musical calendar, having become involved with it in its earliest years. His friend and former pupil, Victoria Jaquiss, who spoke of his contribution at this summer’s event, said: “StClair was a very generous man who allowed us all to do our thing with the songs and the instruction that he gave us.

“He gave us his blessing when we gained our independence from him, using and rearranging the tunes he taught us.”