Phase One Steel Orchestra was founded in 1978 by Victor Phillip. At the start, however, Broad Heath School Steel Band was the given name and scores of children from other schools were eager to join.
Citing the widespread interest, came the name change: something less exclusive; and so Phase One was born.
The Coventry-based music outfit enjoyed many successes ranging from a tour to Hamburg, Germany and many gigs across the country. After a few years the band was invited to Keele in Germany, which is twinned with Coventry. The band went to Hong Kong in 1984 representing Coventry and introduced the Cantonese people to the steel pan. For many, it was the first time they had ever seen and heard such an instrument, which originated in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Phase One was invited to take part in the very first episode of Emu’s World, a very popular children’s programme in the 80’s. Another popular children’s programme the band appeared on, was Going Live. Phase One has also taken part in several Children in Need broadcasts.
Have you heard of the popular 80’s group called A-Ha?
Well, Phase One was booked to greet them on the platform of Birmingham International train station, playing some of their most popular hits. A-Ha members were so impressed, they immediately asked Phase One to perform that very night, at their concert at the NEC in front of thousands of adoring fans.
Phase One has played at many festivals and presented its musical wares at competitions during its 30-year history. In the beginning, steel pan festivals were held in the Commonwealth Institute and then at Warwick University Arts Centre where steel bands from all over the country used to meet and share music.
The band decided to enter the Panorama competition in London in 1987 for the first time. It was a great achievement for Phase One to even participate, and to everyone’s great surprise Phase One won the competition outright.
Two decades later (2007) Phase One teamed up with members of Steel Pan Academy and went on the first of a series of tours. The first to Barcelona. The tour was a big success with every performance seeing many local people coming out to listen to the bands. As well as this being a musical tour, with great locations for the performances, it was also an enjoyable holiday for the band members who had worked so hard to raise the money to go in the first place.
Phase One and Steel Pan Academy were back on tour two years later. The destination? Paris. The bands played at Disney Land Paris, as well as, in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
In 2011, Phase One and Steel Pan Academy travelled to Lake Garda, Italy and performed in squares in many of the surrounding towns and villages.
Most recently, Phase One and Steel Pan Academy toured to Belgium in July 2014. Here the bands performed at the prestigious Ghent Festival on the main stage in Sint Baaf’s Square, Ostend and De Panne.
Today, the band has shifted its focus on education. Many of its members are full time steelpan educators in Coventry, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Leamington, Rugby and Nuneaton.
Phase One is consistently in demand, especially between the peak period of May through September.