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Chuma “King CAJWA” Watson

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Scholar and pannist Chuma “King Cajwa” Watson is trying to raise $150,000 by the middle of August to pay for his tuition at Northern Illinois University (NIU) come August 23.

Watson, whose applications for scholarships were unsuccessful, says even though times are tough he is pressing on to achieve his music career goals.

On Sunday, at 5.55 pm, he will host a three-hour virtual fundraising concert, Vibrations of Steel, via the YouTube channel, Poetic Studios.

The show, organised in collaboration with Christian Joseph, Triston Marcano, Safiya Watson and Carissa Victor, promises to tell a story like no other. It will give an insight into Watson’s life journey through the steelpan from 1999 to present.

The unique event will open with narration by Michael Cherrie: “We are nothing but shadows and dust. The earth is our birth-right where untold stories and untold history become the loudest cries…Steel and fire created an eminent sound that continues to echo through ages, and up to this day.”

Featured artists will include VOS. Quartet, Jereel Samuel, Kion Robinson, Triston Marcano, Akinola Sennon, Carissa Victor, Tony Paul, Robert Gomez, Kelé, Black Loyalty, Prophet Benjamin, Marcus Prince, and Shotta Linkz. The UTT student quartet—Marcus Hypolite, guitar; Emile Fortune, piano; Andre Jack, bass; and Leason Jacobs, drums—will provide musical accompaniment.

For Watson, who has a Bachelor’s degree in the Performing Arts with a major in music, his academic experience has been challenging as he is dyslexic. Music has been therapeutic for him, so he holds it very close to his heart.

“I patiently await this next stage of my academic career path with immense excitement, looking forward to learning and also nurturing the richness of knowledge which the Northern Illinois University has to offer,” said Watson, a graduate of UTT.

“My long term goal for steelpan culture strongly focuses on scaffolding a stronger and more innovative academic system for the Caribbean creative arts sector in providing career development programmes, Master’s Degree and PhD programmes in all Caribbean universities strongly focusing on the fine arts, directly.”

Watson started playing steelpan with the LH Pan Groove Steel Orchestra in La Horquetta at age 13 years.

He said he is grateful for the support and encouragement he has received over the years from his mother, Osunkemi Ojegbemi, aunt Elizabeth Thorne and uncle, the late Tony Thorne.

He also expressed his gratitude to Pan Trinbago, Poetic Studio, Monticano, Sound Forge, Flowsstate and Professional Intervention Entertainments.