Inspirational program shares the gift of music with deserving Austin youth

Editor’s note: CultureMap is proud to present the latest installment in our partnership with KLRU’s documentary series Arts in Context. This unique series celebrates stories about the arts in Austin and the people who make this such a vibrant and creative city.

(Article by KLRU-TV/Austin PBS, republished from

More than an after-school program, the Austin Community Steelband has created an expressive place to uplift local youth through learning steel-pan music. Originating in Trinidad, steel bands served as a way for poor and oppressed people to come together and express themselves through music. Executive Director Paula Beaird and Musical Director Cecil Francis continue to manifest the soul of Trinidad by providing free musical instruction where underprivileged children learn skills like memorization, focus, and listening that they can take home and apply to their lives at home and in school.

With an emphasis on collaborative and enriching learning, the students have turned it into something much greater than an after-school activity. They are now part of a vibrant, historically rich musical community that extends beyond the city limits of Austin.

 KLRU-TV, Austin PBS is dedicated to telling stories that entertain, inspire, and change our lives. KLRU highlights what makes Austin unique — whether music, arts, or public issues — by creating and distributing award-winning original content. KLRU produces several series including Austin City Limits, Arts in Context, Central Texas Gardener, Civic Summit, and Overheard With Evan Smith. As a nonprofit educational organization, KLRU also prepares children to succeed in school and creates lifelong learning opportunities for all.

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