Shawn Thwaites's expertise is unique – the steeldrum, a relatively new and underexplored instrument born out of the colonial history of Trinidad and Tobago. His trademark style integrates the very best of his Trinidadian ancestry and his D.C. upbringing, intertwining jazz, hip-hop, funk, calypso, reggae, and more.
The Shawn Thwaites Rebel Quartet (STRQ) was born out of an exploratory effort to fuse intricate masterpieces of Caribbean, African, American, and European composers. With the steeldrum at the helm, STRQ is undoubtedly the world’s most eclectic ensemble. As a steeldrum musician, Thwaites’ vision was to compile a cadre of talented musicians in a manner that would authentically present the steel drum and its deeply rooted history, while simultaneously pushing the instrument and culture to uncharted territories. Bringing together elements of jazz, rhythm and blues, hip hop, afro-beat, and calypso, STRQ pushes the limits of innovation, while remaining loyal to authentic world sounds.
With STRQ, Thwaites is actively reviving the birth of cool contemplated by Miles and realized by those who have used this approach as their musical foundation, such as Robert Glasper, Christian Scott, Esperanza Spalding, and Kendrick Lamar.