Trini steelpan performer to receive prestigious Vanguard Award

Trinidadian steelpan performer Josanne Francis.
Trinidadian steelpan performer Josanne Francis.
Photo courtesy ICS

The Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) says Trinidadian steelpan performer, Josanne Francis will receive the prestigious Vanguard Award on Friday at the 29th Annual Caribbean American Heritage (CARAH) Awards in Washington, D.C.
The CARAH Awards is presented by ICS, the leading Caribbean-American advocacy organization responsible for securing Presidential Proclamation of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
“The prestigious honors recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Caribbean leaders in various fields, while celebrating Caribbean pride and the great promise of Caribbean immigrants to America and the world.,” said Dr. Claire Nelson, ICS’s Jamaican-born founder and president, on Monday.
Dr. Nelson said Francis, who was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago, is an internationally-known steelpan performer and music educator.
“Her music delivers that special ‘extra’ that separates her from even the greats, and catapults listeners into a unique and exceptional place,” she said.
“With hands that seem to float like the wings of a butterfly with a ‘wand-like’ touch, her music is not devoid of power when needed,” Dr. Nelson added.
She said Francis’ music blends together and draws influences from traditional calypso music, jazz, Indian, funk, rock and classical music – “a unique mix which is not typical for the instrument.”
Dr. Nelson said Francis has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, and Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda, MD.
She said Francis has also appeared as a guest artist at festivals and universities across the United States and internationally, including the San Juan Conservatory of Music, San Juan Puerto Rico and the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival, Haiti.
Dr. Nelson said Francis served as one of six Artists in Residence at Strathmore for the 2017-2018 season.
She currently runs her very own educational steelpan program, “Steel on Wheels”, the ICS president said.
Francis attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where she gained her Bachelor of Music Education.
She also attended the Northern Illinois University, where she got her Master of Music, and she is currently pursuing a Ph. D in Music Education at the University of Maryland.
The 29th staging of the CARAH Awards will return to its in-person format this year, at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
In 2020 and 2021, the CARAH Awards were held virtually as the world grappled with the novel coronavirus.

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