Meet Sterling Betancourt MBE - Steelpan Pioneer, 1952 TASPO member, Notting Hill Carnival and more - UpClose!

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

An exclusive Von Martin–interview with Mr. Sterling Betancourt. Here is Betancourt’s story in his own words with noted author and journalist Von Martin. This interview was done in  London, England at Betancourt’s home in 2000.
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London, England:

“...the biggest step and the most sanguine approach at promoting the new art form came in 1951 with the forming of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO). Comprised of a dozen all-star steel band players including Betancourt, who was chosen from the Crossfire band, TASPO would tour the U.K. for three months during the Festival of Britain. The band would capture the fancy of the upper crust by playing on unpainted drums that settled on the player’s knees, Toselli’s Serenade, the Blue Danube waltz and Climb Up on My Knee Satiny Boy, among other standards. And disbelieving folk would call the message black magic. ....” Dalton Narne - panist and journalist

Noted and respected veteran journalist and steelpan documentarian Von Martin, through his series of exclusive interviews with key figures in the history of the development of the steelpan instrument - provides us with an opportunity to hear the thoughts and memories of these notables up-close and in their own voices.  And one such, Sterling Betancourt, has been featured here.

*** Interview audio provided by and published with the expressed permission of, Mr. Von Martin.

Ping Pong Samba by Sterling Bettancourt  - "Wizard Of The Ping Pong" with Russell Henderson's Calypso Band -  ℗1952 Melodisc Records Ltd.

Sterling Betancourt
Sterling Betancourt

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