Steelpan Arranger
Len "Boogsie" Sharpe - Champion Steelpan Arranger
WST Pan Photographer

Len “Boogsie” Sharpe

Len “Boogsie” Sharpe - Phase II Pan Groove, Katzenjammers,  Moods Pan Groove, Dixieland. Mangrove
Panorama Championships
Trinidad & Tobago - 1987, 1988, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014

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Len “Boogsie” Sharpe was born on October 28, 1953, and started playing the steelpan at the age of four. By the time he was a teenager he had mastered all the voices and different styles of the pan family. By the early seventies, following the pioneering work of Ray Holman in 1972, “Boogsie” became renowned as a composer and arranger of his own music in national competitions, in both the classical and calypso genres.

From that time to the present, he has continued to compose and arrange music for PHASE II PAN GROOVE Steel Orchestra, the band that he co-founded in 1972, and of which he is Chairman and Musical Director. Additionally, because of his prowess as a composer and arranger “Boogsie” has worked with numerous other pan orchestras in Trinidad and Tobago as well as throughout the Caribbean, the USA and England. His arrangements and compositions span a variety of musical genres including Calypso, Soca, Classical and Jazz.

As a testimony to his genius and prolific arranging skills, “Boogsie” created history in 1987 when his orchestra Phase II Pan Groove became the first unsponsored steelband to win the National Panorama title playing its own composition “Boogsie’s” “This Feeling Nice.” That year his own composition saw TCL Skiffle Bunch win the Pan-round-the-neck category, and his arrangements also earned victories for Siparia Deltones (South Zone), Our Boys (Tobago Zone) and Phase II (joint North Zone Champions). The following year, 1988, “Boogsie” created a record that may never be broken as he captured seven titles with all of the bands that he arranged for in the North, East, South and Tobago zones, Pan-round-the neck category, as well as the National Panorama championship for Phase II, once more with his own composition “Woman is Boss.” Thereafter - a law was passed limiting each arranger to one band in each category.

“Boogsie’s” versatility has taken him to bandstands, workshops and recording studios with such jazz greats as: Wynton Marsalis, Randy Weston, Gary Burton, Monty Alexander, Nexus, Max Roach, and Ginger Baker - and in the Caribbean, he has also worked with all of the world-famous Calypso and Soca icons of the region.

As a soloist, or as part of his group PHASE II, “Boogsie” has amazed audiences throughout the Caribbean, USA, Japan, France, Switzerland, Holland, England, Denmark, Australia, and Germany for World Cup 2006. His travels have made him an official “Ambassador of the Steel Pan” with some notable performances at the Berlin Jazz Festival (with Monty Alexander), Montreux Jazz Festival (with Monty Alexander), the Hamburg Jazz Festival, and the North Sea Jazz Festival. Notably, as Cultural Ambassador, “Boogsie” was invited along with other high-ranking officials to share an evening with the Queen of England aboard her Royal Yacht Britannia when she visited Trinidad and Tobago.

At home in Trinidad & Tobago, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe has led his band PHASE II PAN GROOVE to no less than six national titles in the annual National Steelband Panorama competition, including one won by a record 20 points clear, in 2005.

Additionally, “Boogsie” set a classical ‘Rain Forest’ scenario to music for the Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra and helped that band win the first World Steelband Festival in 2000. He had once more created history by becoming the first composer, and with an “original” composition, to capture a classical steelband festival title.

For his contribution to the national musical development of Trinidad & Tobago, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe has been inducted as an honorary distinguished fellow of the University of Trinidad and Tobago where he now teaches music improvisation. Mr. Sharpe was also awarded the Chaconia Silver Medal in 1988 and the Humming Bird Medal Gold in 2009, for his contribution to the art form.

Len “Boogsie” Sharpe – genius, the most versatile and gifted performer of his country’s national instrument, the steelpan. Truly, as David Del Tredici suggests, “The Mozart of Pan.”

By Errol Skerritt, Manager, Phase II Pan Groove

 
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