A talented self-taught pianist, Max began to lead his own band in Trinidad- a quintet, like that of his hero, George Shearing- from the age of 19. Only 3 years elapsed, though, before his musical ambitions brought him over to England in 1952. He decided to pack a tenor pan with him, even though he hadn’t learnt the instrument and had never been in a steel band in his hometown.
She began her musical career at the age of 5 and was awarded a scholarship to attend ‘The Royal Academy of Music’ at the age of 8. At 11, she was awarded a further scholarship to study full-time at the Purcell School of Music and achieved Distinction at Grade 8 Piano at the age of 12. It was around this time that she first started playing the tenor pan under the tutelage of her father, Max.
Having first played with his father’s band in the 70’s, Paul went on to lead his own bands, Solid Steel and the Caribbean party band, Kaiso. He then later established a successful agency called Tropical Entertainments that represented a wide range of performers from within the ethnic arts community in the UK. He continues to both perform with and manage the Cherry Pickers under his management company, ‘Cherry Ripe Management’.
Paul Aikens has been with the Cherry Pickers for some 25-years now. Manchester born and bred, his parents are Jamaican, but as a youngster he found himself listening to the steel bands at carnival far more than the sound systems. He is now a full-time steel band professional performing with various bands on tenor pan, second pan and bass pan.
Cherry Pickers Steel Band
The Cherry Pickers Steel Band is based in Manchester and is an institution within the UK entertainment industry having already celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011. The band is founder Trinidadian Max Cherrie's gift to lovers of steel bands that play traditional Caribbean folk music- and indeed to his own family- as it has developed into a family band over the years. Max and his elder brother Ralph played with Russ Henderson MBE and Sterling Betancourt MBE in the early fifties and helped them establish the Notting Hill Carnival and the '3-piece steel band' format that eventually became an industry standard in London, with Russ' band playing all the biggest 'society' gigs of the day. The Cherrie brothers’ contribution to the Russ Henderson Steel Band was significant. Ralph brought the first bass pan over from Trinidad that was practical as a gigging instrument. Max took that instrument and developed the technique of playing it with the one hand and shaking a maracas- or in Trinidadian parlance- 'shak-shak' with the other hand. Today there may be as many as twenty bands that go out and perform as a steel trio in and around London. All will have someone playing a bass pan and shaking something with the other hand!
A 3-piece acoustic steel band for a wedding reception at the Lowry in Manchester
A steel duo with vocals for a wedding in Oldham
A 3-piece acoustic steel band for a trade fayre at the Reebok stadium, Bolton
A 4-piece acoustic steel band for a birthday party in Alderley Edge
A 3-piece acoustic steel band for the Cheshire Oaks Shopping Centre
A 3-piece acoustic steel band for a wedding reception at the Village Hotel in Bury
A 6-piece acoustic steel band on a float for the Gay Pride carnival parade in Manchester
A 6-piece acoustic steel band for a match at Notts County football club