One of the oldest steel bands in the country, the Rainbow Steel Band; which originated in Barbados, made Bath its home more than half a century ago.
In the 1950’s the cream of the pan players on the island of Barbados formed themselves into The Barbados All-Stars.
The whole band who were already friends and family, decided move to England. Here they settled in Bath which was a large centre for Caribbean immigrants before London.
This group of friends and families; all with the music of the Caribbean flowing in their veins, have stayed together and with their children now grown up, still play pan in the band now known as Rainbow Steel Orchestra.
Currently rainbow has eight members, including Hallam (Rainbow’s leader) and two of his sons.
Rainbow is the oldest Black and Minority Ethnic Community organisation based in Bath and has gained national and international recognition, playing for royalty, touring Europe and the Caribbean; developing an international fan base.
Past Barbados All Stars Members
Past Rainbow Members
To positively promote the steel pan to its widest possible audience, showing the true potential of the instrument and the art form.
To share knowledge, skills and expertise with anyone wishing to learn.
The pursuit of musical excellence
The constant development of Rainbow
The constant development of Rainbow members past and present
Rainbow Steel Band History
The Rainbow Steel Band has been performing since making the UK & Bath their home. The Steel Band is oldest Black & Minority Ethnic Community organisation based in Bath and the one of the oldest Steel Bands in the country. The Band originated in Barbados in the early 1950’s and moved to the UK after Mr Hallam Ifill immigrated to England. The members settled in Bath and began performing under the name of the Barbados All Stars. Based at the YMCA they were able to continue to practice and perform and most importantly attract younger players. One enthusiastic young recruit at this time was Toussaint Clarke, following his father Orman Clarke into the Band.Over the years many of the original founding members retired from playing or migrated back to Barbados, leaving Hallam and Toussaint to develop and restructure the band into what we now know as the Rainbow Steel Band. Since its inception Rainbow has gained National & International success and recognition, playing for Royalty, touring Europe and the Caribbean, developing an International fan base along the way. In 1984 Rainbow was fortunate enough to return to its Bajan roots for a very successful tour.
Over the last two decades the Rainbow line-up included the legendary Earl Rodney (considered to be one of the leading player, arrangers in the world) who had been performing with Rainbow since1992, taking the Band to a new dimension in playing and arranging.
As Rainbow has developed it has sought to share its skills and knowledge with anyone wishing to learn. Subsequently the band has earned National recognition for steel pan tutoring in schools around the country. This work has enabled Rainbow to support some of these school bands to go on to become professionally acclaimed touring Steel Bands in their own right.
The development of the Band has not stopped with performing and tutoring, but has taken some members down the road of learning about the total care of the instruments. Toussaint Clarke has gone on to learn how to produce and tune steel pans gaining International acclaim, and developing a craft that has been passed on through generations within the Caribbean.
The Rainbow Steel Band has managed to sustain itself for 58 years. Whilst a large portion of the success and accolades they receive is on a National and International level the Band remains Bath based and has resisted all temptations to move to a place where Steel Pan and Calypso, the music of the Caribbean, is widely recognised. Rainbow and Bath are now renowned for Steel Pan excellence.
Rainbow Steel – Our Music
For more than sixty years, Rainbow has kept the ‘West Indian’ tradition of steel pan making and playing, and spread the delights of this unique percussion instrument to this Roman city and around the globe.
Description: Melvin is Hallams youngest son, he has been playing in Rainbow steel for 37 years, Melvin also is a Percussionist. Drummer, Producer, Programmer, Songwritter Musician and Arranger. Melvin is also a steel drum tutor.
Description: Hallam has been playing Steel Pan for 65 years, and for the last 58 years in the UK, he is a founder member of Rainbow then known as the Barbados All Stars. Hallam has been both leader and manager of Rainbow for over five decades enabling the band to gain National & International recognition, playing for Royalty, touring Europe and the Caribbean, developing an international fan base along the way. Hallam has encouraged the bands ethos of sharing skills and knowledge with anyone wishing to learn. This has led to members earning national recognition for steel pan tutoring in schools around the country. Hallam has been instrumental in the development of many Rainbow players who have gone on to achieve bigger and greater things e.g. Toussaint and Leroy Clarke. It could be argued that Hallam’s greatest achievement has been to lead Rainbow to a position of respect within the Steel Pan Community.
Description: Roger is one of the founding members of the “Rainbow Steel Orchestra” along with Toussaint Clarke. Roger’s been playing since he was 6 years old and has been with the Rainbow Steel Orchestra 47 years. Since leaving school Roger has been teaching in various schools in the south west and continues to do so.
Andy plays Double Seconds in the band and has been playing for 32 years.
Nigel (Sam) Skinner
Sam has been playing with Rainbow for just over 19 years and currently plays percussion in the band. Like many of the members Sam also has a family connection as his father Luton Skinner played in the original line up.
Nya is the youngest member of Rainbow, joining the band at 15 years old, now 19 Nya has been playing Tenor Base for 4 years. Playing steel pan has become a family tradition, as two of Nya’s uncles (Geoff and Melvin) and his Granddad (Hallam) also play in the band. Nya’s desire to play and the love of the art form has been passed down to him from his granddad who has been a great inspiration not only to Nya but many of the Rainbow membership.
Sophie began playing Cello pans in 1996 as part of the Castle School Steel Band (a school supported by members of Rainbow). Sophie joined Rainbow in 2011 and now teaches several steel bands at Kings Oak Academy in South Gloucestershire. Sophie says “the highlight of my pan playing career has been playing in the 2012 Panorama winning band Real Steel at the London Nottinghill Carnival. It was a truly amazing experience and opportunity gained through my connection with Rainbow.”
Geoff has been playing steel pan for over 30 years, first with the Percy Boys Junior Steel Band and then with Rainbow. Geoff plays tenor and is another one of Hallam’s sons who has followed into what is becoming a family tradition of playing in the band.
Toussaint gained his passion for Steel Pan from growing up surrounded by Steel Drums and watching his dad, Hallam and other older members practicing and playing the sweet music of the Caribbean. He has been playing for 45 years after following his dad Orman Clarke into the band. Toussaint not only plays in the band, he teaches and makes and tunes the instruments. Toussaint is passionate about the art from and willingly shares his skill with those who are willing to learn, providing workshops and tuition around the country. Toussaint has been involved in the development of many steel bands around the UK such as Real Steel, Sounds of Steel and many others. Toussaint’s ability to make and tune steel pans has caused him to be in demand around the world. He has had the opportunity to work with some of the best bands in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, including Phase II Pan Groove Steel Orchestra, Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra, Amoco Renegades Steel Orchestra, and Ebony Steel Band, Mangrove Steel Band, Metronomes Steel Orchestra, Real Steel and many others. Toussaint is an active member of the BAS (British Association of Steel bands) and is a founder member of the UK Steel Pan Tuners Guild. Whilst Toussaint is involved in many elements of the art form Rainbow is where his home is.