Shawn Thwaites is a Trinidadian-American musician and educator from Washington, DC. His area of 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. This distinct sound, along with his coy style of performing, has helped establish Thwaites as a rare and sought after international recording artist, musician, and educator.
Shawn Thwaites is a reputable and versatile steelpan musician and performer. His accomplishments include recordings with notable artists, such as Lauryn Hill, Walter Beasley, and Greg Philliganes. He has toured North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe, bringing his distinct sound to audiences around the world. Thwaites earned his stripes within the steeldrum fraternity performing with several steel orchestras, such as Pan Masters, Moods Pan Groove and Oasis Steel Orchestra. He has carried that torch to some of the world’s most prestigious venues, such as the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Memorial Washington, DC. In 2011, he joined Native Deen, an American Nasheed group, with whom has performed for diverse audiences on five continents. In 2015, he formed the Shawn Thwaites Rebel Quartet.
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.