Over the last 14 years the Silver Birds Steel Orchestra has performed at almost every resort and hotel in Jamaica, bringing huge smiles to the faces of captivated guests. They do up to four shows a day at each property, taking turns in two teams of four players each. With eight players assigned to a hotel, the 50-member team can cover a lot of ground.
And they absolutely love their job! You can tell from the way they move to the beat they seem to effortlessly tease from the huge steel instruments in front of them.
“We deliver the best at all times so wherever we go we ensure that the guests are pleased with our performance,” said Kemar “King Will” Williams who has been a member of the band for 12 years. “This is the best feeling, to know that people are happy when we deliver.”
For 24-year-old Lejoun Riley, being a band member is a way to be what he’s always wanted to be – an entertainer. He’s been putting on a show for guests for just a little over four years.
“Every time we finish performing, people would come to us and say, ‘You guys are the best!’ Some would even say we should go on America’s Got Talent because we would win. The fact that we can bring so much joy to strangers means a lot,” he said.
The band has been amazing audiences around the world for years. Visitors who get a taste of their performance in Jamaica sometimes ask them to take their sound beyond the country’s borders.
“We perform in places like China, Amsterdam, Canada… all over the world because when people come and see us and how good we play they just want to have us play at their events. People love us in all the places we go because we adapt easily and play their music so well,” said Williams.
“We even went to a steel band championship in Los Angeles in 2011 and out of 1,000 bands we came out on top,” he added.
Not bad for a group of players from West Lane in Kingston.
Locals got a taste of the band’s impressive skills recently during the Style Jamaica Shopping Showcase staged at the popular Island Village in the resort town of Ocho Rios. The event was hosted by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Area Chapter and the St Ann Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Tourism Enhancement Fund’s (TEF) Linkages Network.
“It was so captivating, this band has vibe! I just had to stand there for the entire time and do a video of them,” onlooker Albert Harrison told LetsTravelCaribbean.com. “Steel orchestras always amaze me because I wonder how is it even possible to make such amazing sounds from steel.”
It may just have something to do with the love the Silver Bird players have for what they do. It comes shining through in their performance.
“It brings me joy and happiness when I’m performing; it doesn’t even feel like I’m working,” said Williams. It makes band members happy, he said, to “make people feel good”.
TEXT & PHOTOS: AKERA DAVIS