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Steel 'n' Skin




Community music group and workshop.


Steel 'n' Skin (also Steel an' Skin) was an arts ensemble who focused their work within communities across the country. Founded by young nightclub musicians born in Ghana, Nigeria, St. Kitts, Trinidad and the UK, they fused together different musical styles - steel pan, disco and dub to create Afro Punk Reggae (Dub).

During the 1970s and 80s, the group ran music workshops in disadvantaged communities, youth groups and schools often aiming to introduce white communities to pan-African culture, arts and music. The group were partly funded by the Arts Council England in a time where less than 2% of the Arts Council funding went towards community work. They taught children about African religions, traditions, rituals and custom. They also provided teachers and community workers with workshops on music, culture, dance and food in order to carry on the legacy of Steel an' Skin.

They were founded in London and lead by musician and former teacher Peter Blackman. Their most famous song 'Reggae is Here Once Again' was released in 1979. Their name is derived from their use of steelpan and drum (skins) within their workshops.

A 1979 documentary 'Steel 'n' Skin' (dir. Steve Shaw) sees the group head to Liverpool for a 10-day workshop, focused around music, drumming and movement in schools. In the documentary, Blackman discusses how poor urban communities with high unemployment can be targets for extreme racist groups to find support, and so it is in places like this that Steel 'n' Skin's work is most important.
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