"Black James"

(Picture Needed)


DATE OF BIRTH: April 4, 1933
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Fernando, Trinidad
  • San Fernando Boys' RC School
  • Nelson Street Boys' School, Port-of-Spain
  • Free French (1940s - 1952)
  • TASPO (1951)
  • Metronome (1953)
  • Southern All Stars (1954 - 1955)
  • Tuner
  • Player
  • Arranger
  • CAREER:                    Stephens started his steelband career at the age of twelve with Free French in San Fernando where, with the passage of time, he became a tuner and arranger with the band. He was one of twelve panmen selected to join TASPO as the Trinidad & Tobago representatives at the 1951 Music Festival in England.
                                            After returning home from the TASPO tour, he left Free French and formed his own band, Metronome, on Rushworth Street, San Fernando. However, Metronome did not function very long and when it folded, he helped organize Southern All Stars who went on to win the second Steelband Music Festival in 1954 with "Anna"; Trinidad All Stars placed 2nd and Casablanca 3rd. Stephens is best remembered for his solo in "Anna." In the same Festival, Stephens placed 3rd in the solo competition behind Dudley Smith (1st) and Everest Bacquain (2nd).
                                           In 1955, Stephens left Trinidad for England where he became involved with several steelbands. He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) where he learned to fly helicopters while studying music. After spending almost three years with the RAF contingent in NATO, he returned to London in 1960 where he was hired by the British government to teach pan in the schools, a job he held for seven years. In the early 1970s, he accepted a similar job in San Antonio, Texas, USA. He later moved to New York where he lived his last days.
    DIED: April 6, 2001
    Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit