This is special episode of Art Lives. It is part of a 2008 interview presented now to honor Cliff, who passed away on Tuesday, January 29 at age 82.
People have shared incredible stories this week about Cliff, what he taught them, how he cared for them and how he changed their lives. He was dedicated to his family, yet somehow took care of countless others.
In the 1980s and 90s there was a lot of misinformation in the United States about the origins of the steel pan in Trinidad & Tobago, where Cliff was born. Many first and second generation steelpannists did not speak about their shared history, Cliff included. Finally, in the early 2000s, more players and pan builders agreed to speak on the record, including Cliff. (My doctoral research was inspired by Cliff’s pan story, and this interview, as well as other introductions he made, enabled my entire project.)
Cliff has said some of this information in other interviews, but he includes some wonderful details here, including Cliff’s touring years in the 1970s, and how he learned to love teaching. You will hear passion, honesty and comedy in this interview. I think friends, family and new listeners alike will enjoy hearing him talk about his remarkable life.