Len "Boogsie" Sharpe is considered one of the foremost steelpan players today. "Boogsie" began playing the steel drum at age five. He had mastered the instrument by the time he reached his teens. With his exceptional talent, Sharpe has expanded the bounds of steelpan music, reaching performance heights unequaled by any other artist in the instrument's relatively short fifty year history.
Sharpe has recorded with all the leading soca and calypso singers - The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, Duke, Black Stalin, Chalkdust, Baron, and explainer, to name a few. He has also worked with some of the greatest jazz artists of all time - Othello Molineaux, Randy Weston, Garry Burton, Grover Washington Jr., Eric Gale, Nathon Davis and Andy Narell.
Boogie's genius was first evident in his arrangement of cover tunes and original compositions for calypsonians and steel drum orchestras in the Caribbean, North America and U.K. In 1989, he arranged for 8 of the 48 bands in the national preliminaries steel drum competition in Trinidad and Tobago, and 4 of the 12 finalists in the same competition.
Steel bands he has worked with include: Antillian All Stars; BWIA Invaders; Deltones; Despers U.S.A.; Halcyon, Antigua; Moods Pan Groove, NY; Our Boys Steel Orchestra, Tobago and CA; Pamberi; Petrotrin Phase 11; Potential Symphony; Starlift; Silver Stars; Solo Harmonites; Tropical Angel Harps; Valley Harps; WITCO Desperadoes. As a composer, he has been composer in residence at Phase II Pan Grove a steel orchestra in Trinidad and Tobago
It has been said that Len “Boogsie” Sharpe is a pannist of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Boogsie, known to his close friends as “Pip” is considered to be the Mozart of Pan. He is also an accomplished pianist.
He was born 28 October 1953, Benares Street, St James, Trinidad. The nick-name Boogsie was given to him by his mother.
Boogsie began playing the steel drums at the tender age of five, encouraged by his father who would take him to varous panyards. Ironically, his parents’ yard was the headquarters of the Symphonettes, which was led by his cousin Rupert ‘Shadow’ Nathaniel.
At the age of nine years he began composing and had mastered the instrument by the time he reached his teens, reaching performance heights unequalled by any other steelpan artist in the instrument's short history.
Boogsie’s pan career took off when he became a member of Starlift.
Malick was his first composition for pan.
In 1972 Phase II Pan Grove (Phase II) was formed and took part in Panorama in 1973 for the first time.
From 1974 (with Phase II) Boogsie entered his own compositions for the Panorama competitions. This paid off in 1987 when he made history by being the first person to have composed and arranged his own piece, This Feeling Nice. This was a sign for things to come as many other arrangers began to follow his winning formula.
In 1989, he arranged for 8 of the 48 bands in the national preliminaries steelpan competition in Trinidad and Tobago, and 4 of the 12 finalists in the same competition.
In 2000, he became a Cultural Ambassador with task of promoting the steelpan and in the same year was arranger for the National Steelband of Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2003, he began to teach steelpan in local schools.
In 2005, his collaboration with songwriter Anthony ‘Lexo’ Alexis gave Trinidad and Tobago the most popular Panorama win in history (20 points) with “Trinis Gone Wild”.
In 2006, they won Panorama with “This One’s for You(U), Bradley”, a tribute to the late Clive Bradley. In 2009, he was awarded the Humming Bird Gold Medal for his outsanding service and contribution to the culture of Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2012, Boogsie composed a tribute to the late Pat Bishop, titled "Archbishop of Pan". The song was sung by the Lydian Singers Choir and played by Phase II who gained 2nd place in the Large band competition.
Boogsie’s dominance as a pan player is endorsed by the numerous bands he has worked with over the years. Some of the headline bands include:
Antillian All Stars, BWIA Invaders, Crossfire, Deltones, Despers U.S.A, Halcyon Antigua, Moods Pan Groove NY, Our Boys Steel Orchestra, Pamberi, Petrotrin Phase 11, Potential Symphony, Starlift, Silver Stars, Solo Harmonites, Tropical Angel Harps, Valley Harps, WITCO Desperadoes.
His panyard at Hamilton Street, Woodbrook is known by many as the "University of Pan