Steelpan Legend, Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, Dies

Renowned steelpan soloist and arranger, Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore died on September 29th, 2018 at the age of fifty-eight (58).

He succumbed to injuries from a car accident that happened on Republic Day on the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway in Trinidad and Tobago.

Professor Philmore was a pioneer and innovator in the steelpan arena who continuously challenged the status quo and set new boundaries for others to follow. He was bestowed the nickname ‘Professor’ because of his propensity to talk about a variety of topics under the sun. It was that natural curiosity that kept him pushing boundaries while perfecting his craft. His laser focus allowed him to cross many borders. He introduced the world at large to steelpan music and graced many legendary stages. He also collaborated with world famous musicians and still remained humble and grounded throughout his journey. Always on a mission to give back and hone the craft of those coming after him.


Here is our Top five list of things to know about the iconic Professor Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore.

  • Ken is the third of five children and got his early introduction into pan through his cousins Ferdi and Barry Brathwaite. He was introduced to steelpan music at a J’ouvert competition that he attended with neighbors at the age of seven (7). He first played with the steel band called Hatters.
  • After playing with several steel-bands, Professor Philmore finally settled down with the Foncliare Steel Orchestra in 1981 where the band went on to win the South Zone Panorama for four (4) consecutive years.
  • Professor Philmore has produced eight (8) albums since 1984
    • Pan Calypso (1987)
    • Love in Steel (1988)
    • Pan Jamboree (1989)
    • Pan By Storm (1990)
    • Pan Ecstasy (1991)
    • Pan in the Party (1992)
    • All Night (1993)
    • Graduation (1997)
  • Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore has also performed at places such as Carnegie Hall in New York, The Royal Albert Hall in London and the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.*
  • He  performed alongside local musical stalwarts such as  Lord Kitchener and Destra Garcia, and also with international musicians such as Sarah Vaughn, Maria Carey, Freddie Jackson, George Benson, Bob James and George Howard at various Jazz Festivals. He also made an appearance at Jazz Central on the BET TV channel Washington, DC.


SOUND OFF: What is your favorite performance from the Professor?




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