UA steel band documentary nominated for eight Emmys


Larry Snider

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) has nominated "Hammer on Steel," a two-program documentary created by The University of Akron, for eight Emmy awards for the 2011 broadcast year.

Documenting the compelling and conflict-torn history of steel drum music in the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago, "Hammer on Steel: Bad Boys and Genius" premiered in February 2011 on Western Reserve Public Media in Northeast Ohio.

Nominations for 'Hammer on Steel'

  • Best Director: Phil Hoffman
  • Special Event Coverage: Phil Hoffman, Larry Snider, Matthew Dudack, Clifford Alexis, Timothy McCarty, Richard Maurer
  • Best Audio: Richard Maurer
  • Best Audio, 5.1 Surround Mix: Jeffrey Gates
  • Best Music Composition: Clifford Alexis, Matthew Dudack
  • Best Director, Live: Timothy McCarty
  • Best Editor: Phil Hoffman
  • Best Writer: Phil Hoffman

The second program, "Hammer on Steel: The Concert," documents the UA Steel Drum Band's 30th anniversary concert in April 2010 at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall on the UA campus. The concert program premiered on Western Reserve Public Media in Northeast Ohio, and has since aired on PBS stations in Hawaii, Florida, New Hampshire, Montana and others around the country.

Phil Hoffman

"Hammer on Steel" earned the Emmy nominations in the Lower Great Lakes chapter of NATAS' competition. The nominations are in categories ranging from Live Event Coverage to Best Original Score. The awards ceremony will be in Indianapolis, Ind., on June 2.

Forged less than 100 years ago in the heated struggle for independence in colonial Trinidad and Tobago, steel drum music was often the source of tremendous conflict. As quickly as authorities seized and destroyed the handmade and hammered pans, Trinidadians would rebuild their instruments. Now the music has become a source of community pride, national identity and economic development.

"We made 'Hammer on Steel' to tell the world about this wonderful music and the self-taught musicians who created it — many of whom are now elderly and won’t be with us much longer," explained Larry Snider, The University of Akron music professor who founded the UA Steel Drum Band in 1980.

"We also wanted to tell the unlikely story of how the Caribbean sounds of the steel drums have found a home in less-than-tropical Northeast Ohio."

"I am proud of the team that worked on 'Hammer on Steel,'" said producer and director Phil Hoffman of the UA School of Communication. "From Trinidad to Akron, exceptional artists and educators came together to create the documentary. We hope this attention shines a light on the heritage, people and artistry of steel drum music."

"Hammer on Steel" is available for purchase on the UA Steel Drum Band website.

Media contact: Cyndee Snider, 330-972-5196 or