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Josanne Francis

Born and raised in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Josanne Francis 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.

JOSANNE FRANCIS-

Born and raised in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Josanne Francis 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.

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. Ms. 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.

Josanne has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and has appeared as a guest artist at festivals and universities across the United States, including the San Juan Conservatory of Music, San Juan Puerto Rico and the Caramoor Jazz Festival, NY. Josanne was recently one of 6 Artists in Residence at Strathmore for the 2017-2018 season. This year, Josanne has already toured Haiti and appeared on the Stephen Colbert Late Show. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Cultural Academy for Excellence, Inc. and runs her very own educational steelpan program Steel on Wheels, LLC.

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:

Master of Music, Northern Illinois University (2014)

Bachelor of Music Education, University of Southern Mississippi (2012)

CJ Menge

CJ Menge’s passion for building community through music has led to a diverse career as a steel pan performer, educator and composer. He is a classically trained percussionist who has been playing steel pan professionally since 1992. He currently serves as Executive Director of Inside Out Steelband, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

CJ MENGE

CJ Menge’s passion for building community through music has led to a diverse career as a steel pan performer, educator and composer.  He is a classically trained percussionist who has been playing steel pan professionally since 1992. He currently serves as Executive Director of Inside Out Steelband, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Menge co-founded professional steel band Bandandee-A in 1992 and renamed the group Inside Out Steelband in 1996, when he widened his vision to develop an Arts-in-Education program promoting the Trinidadian steel pan tradition in the greater Austin, Texas area. Since that time he has worked diligently to create a community of steel bands in Austin and Central Texas.  As a result of Menge’s guidance, Austin now has many schools with year-round steel band programs that are part of the daily class curriculum.

Menge founded the Inside Out Community Steelband in 2000, which extends the reach of Inside Out programs outside of schools and into the general population.  This group currently includes members ranging in age from 12 to 70. Menge has held long-term teaching artist positions with several school programs, including James Bowie High School (Austin ISD), KIPP Austin College Prep, McCallum High School and Fine Arts Academy (Austin ISD), Sam Houston High School (San Antonio ISD) and the University of Texas at Austin. As a clinician, Menge has worked with steel bands of all levels (Pre-K, Elementary, Middle School, High School, Community, and University) throughout the United States.

Menge is recognized for his skill as a director of mass steel band performances and festivals, in which several steel band programs come together to present performances as one unified ensemble.  He has been presenting mass steel band performances since 1997.  The annual Inside Out Steelband Festival places students from multiple Austin schools onstage, performing as a mass band alongside internationally recognized guest steel pan artists such as Liam Teague, Andy Narell, Ray Holman, Leon “Foster” Thomas, Josanne Francis, Victor Provost, and many others. 

Notable past performances include guest artist appearances with the Lima Symphony Orchestra, Austin Chamber Music Festival, and Austin Symphony children’s concerts.  Menge was a featured soloist with the McCallum HS Knights of Steel at the 2007 Midwest Clinic and has been a featured soloist with the St. Edward's University Choir on their concert tours of Scotland, Portugal, Spain, and Norway.  He has directed ensembles at Percussive Arts Society International Conventions and the Midwest Clinic. He has performed in the Trinidad Panorama competition three times (Invaders Steel Orchestra, birdsong Steel Orchestra, and Skiffle Steel Orchestra) and the London Panorama (Croydon Steel Orchestra). 

Menge has composed and arranged over 150 works for steel band.  His works have been performed throughout the United States, and have been featured at national and international festivals. Many of his compositions and arrangements may be found at Boxfish Music Publishing, Inc. (www.boxfishmusic.com), a sheet music publishing company he founded in order to promote original music for steel band. Recent commissions include works for solo steel pan, steel band, and percussion ensemble.

Kendall Williams

Having been born around the Trinidadian culture, Kendall K. Williams has adopted the country's national instrument, the steel pan, from the age of four. After high school he studied music performance at Florida Memorial University. Upon graduating, Kendall enrolled at NYU Steinhardt where he completed his Masters of Music in Theory and Composition. There he studied with Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and Rich Shemaria while actively participating in the NYU Steel band under artist faculty member Josh Quillen.

KENDALL WILLIAMS

Having been born around the Trinidadian culture, Kendall K. Williams has adopted the country's national instrument, the steel pan, from the age of four. After high school he studied music performance at Florida Memorial University. Upon graduating, Kendall enrolled at NYU Steinhardt where he completed his Masters of Music in Theory and Composition. There he studied with Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and Rich Shemaria while actively participating in the NYU Steel band under artist faculty member Josh Quillen.

In 2013, 2015, and 2017, he composed music for steel pan and contemporary ensemble for the annual Bang on A Can Marathon. In 2020 he wrote a solo composition for the Virtual Bang on A Can Marathon while performing as a soloist. Just before that, he was awarded the opportunity to work with the Brooklyn Philharmonic on a project that involved steel pan ensemble and orchestra.

 In 2014 he was the Van Lier Fellow with the American Composers Orchestra. In addition, he is also currently a doctoral student in music composition at Princeton University! Recently, he has lectured and led workshops at various universities and grade schools across the United States, while he completes his dissertation. Kendall is an active adjunct at Brooklyn College, a teaching assistant at Princeton University, and most recently appointed as an adjunct at New York University where he also teaches private lessons in steel pan.

Etienne Charles

Yuko Asada