CITY SOUTH STEEL ORCHESTRA
City South Steel Orchestra (CSSO) started in the Bronx, New York as small band with only six members, all of whom migrated to the United States from Antigua. At first the band only had a single tenor, a double-second, a double-tenor, a cello, a drummer and bass player. The number of members has now doubled although its musical intensity and style far outweigh its size. The band now consists of five single-tenors, two double-seconds, a double-tenor, a cello, a drummer and a bass player.
Within this close knit group, family is the underlying factor, considering that most of the members are related. Patrick Gomes and Roy Gomes are bothers, Dayne Gomes is their cousin, Simone Gomes is Roy's daughter, Rochelle Bailey is the niece of Roy and Patrick and the cousin of Dayne. Earl Shaw and Leon Shaw are father and son. Carl Edwards and Sharon Spencer are cousins and O'Neill Mason is married to Sharon's cousin. Patricia Nicholas and Andrea James have been adopted by this close-knit, musical family group.
The band was called City South because the original members of the band all lived in the political constituency of St. John's Antigua called City South. For those visitors to this site who are familiar with Antigua this included the areas of Ovals and South Street. All the current members of the group are from Antigua, if not from the City South constituency.
While it is no longer a rarity to find females playing pan, CSSO has taken the lead in giving women a prominent role in this orchestra. There are now four talented females on the frontline of this group, who not only play the pan with great skill and expertise, but also significantly enhance the group's performance by adding beautiful voices to exciting steel. Ironically, all the females play the lead pan. The ladies have however, ventured to play other pans and so far have formed their own little quartet with pieces such as Air on a G-String, the Sound of Music and Edelweiss. The combination of male and female influences on selection, arrangement, and performance, have been phenomenally successful.
CSSO boasts a multi-talented membership. Among its members are vocalists, organists, composers, arrangers and a trombone player. The band combines generations of experience in steel bands, choirs, theater, and the public media. One of the rare attributes of the band is its ability to function as a group and its willingness to work together. All the members share the same zeal in the music and devotion to the group not only as a band but as a family. CSSO is a shining example of self-sufficiency and unity the Caribbean community of New York City.
CSSO has performed at world famous venues such as the United Nations and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. It's repertoire includes music from Classics to Calypso to Gospel to Contemporary - you name it, CSSO has played it. Gospel music, however, has become the band's chief focus, due both to the preference of the members and the demand of its numerous church audiences in the tri-state area who can never seem to get enough of its uplifting and emotionally stirring music. The band's signature piece and its most beloved rendition is Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.