About Rachel

Rachel started playing pan in 1985 with the highly successful school steel band — The Radcliffe Rollers — where she was encouraged and inspired by her teachers Richard Murphy and Neil Davison, and tuner Michael “Natsy” Contant, to create her first arrangements and compositions for solo and ensemble steel pans. At the age of 18 she successfully applied for an Arts Travel Scholarship from Milton Keynes Borough Council which enabled her to visit the Trinidad Carnival — an experience which proved a turning point in her musical career.

After leaving school she continued her musical studies at the Guildhall School of Music And Drama and then the City University, London, where her doctoral thesis ‘Yellow Bird’ and Pan: the Transmission, Circulation and Re-creation of a Caribbean Song was awarded in 2015 (to read or download the thesis please click here). Since 1996 she has focused exclusively on pan. Her credentials include winning the UK Soloists Competition, and performing throughout Europe and the Caribbean, most notably in Trinidad (the birthplace of steelpan) where she was the first, and to date only, person of European descent to reach the finals of the World Steelband Soloists Competition (1996).

Other career highlights include playing in the 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony with Nostalgia Steel Band and in 2015 with Pan Nectar Steel Band she became the first woman of European descent to arrange for a steel band at London’s Notting Hill Carnival. With Simon Limbrick she performed Simon Boswell’s title music for Danny Boyle’s film Alien Love Triangle (1999). She has had several pieces composed for her including solo roles in Roxanna Panufnik’s opera Inkle and Yariko (1997) and Patrick Larley’s Birmingham Spirituals (2014). In 2016 she achieved a lifetime’s ambition as her junior steel band — The Turtles — was selected to perform at Music For Youth’s Primary Prom at the Royal Albert Hall and 2017 saw her join Christian Wilson (organist at the Chapels Royal) in Luxembourg for a recital of classical music.

In 2020 she participated as one of the key pan players in recording sessions for the Disney live-action/CGI remake of THE LITTLE MERMAID performing the iconic songs UNDER THE SEA and KISS THE GIRL, as well as new original instrumentals by Lin Manuel Miranda.

She has worked and collaborated with

  • Eclipse Steel Orchestra
  • Skiffle Steel Orchestra
  • Nostalgia Steel Band
  • Russell Henderson Trio (guest)
  • Pan Nectar
  • Euphoria Steel Band
  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
  • London Sinfonietta
  • Traditional Arts Projects
  • Steel Bands North
  • Society for the Promotion of New Music
  • Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music
  • Guildhall School of Music
  • Royal College of Music
  • City University, London.
  •   Panyard Inc, Ohio

Hear Rachel on Spotify:

Red Head (2016)

Priestess of Pan (2008)