A live experience with the Award-winning Xavier Strings (XS) causes music lovers to abandon any pre-conceived notions they might have about the violin and viola. Comprising siblings Janine and Janelle Xavier, this high-energy duo of instrumentalists has been captivating audiences for years with their expertly delivered fusions of Caribbean and world musics. From Calypso to Jazz, Reggae to Rock, Latin, Soca, R&B, Indian, African and Middle Eastern musics, XS has impressed audiences with their unique interpretive style and stagecraft.
Performing as a band alongside other conventional instruments since 2011, Xavier Strings currently enjoys immense popularity on the entertainment circuit in their homeland – Trinidad and Tobago; and are viral sensations on Facebook. Their recent covers of Soca 2017 hit Full Extreme and Latin favourite Despacito have taken the world by storm.
In high demand at corporate and private functions, their slate of notable performances include: Festivals in New York, St. Vincent, Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago; launching new products for Audi and Toyota; and the official reception in honour of Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic medallists.
Prior to appearing as an ensemble, the sisters had already signalled their enviable talent performing for BBC radio, and at reputable jazz and music festivals in the UK.
Scintillating and sassy, Xavier Strings plans to be a revered act in the arena of fusion music, fashion and finesse. From the looks of things, they’re well on their way
Audiences are treated to a stunning, moving and exciting show, taking all who look, listen & experience the strings, through the full gamut of emotional experiences..This is no stand-and-deliver entertainment. The energy of the band alone promises to excite, enthrall and engage the audience.
Violinst / Violist / Vocalist / Composer / Arranger
Janelle is a violinist, viola player and singer. She honed her craft as: an instrumentalist, music arranger and composer with: producers, brilliant musicians, orchestras and poets like Garvin Holligan (UK music producer), Corey Mwamba (UK, band leader, composer & vibraphonist), the Bollywood Jazz Ensemble (UK), Samantha Thornhill (US, poet, album Odelicious), Phenzwaan (UK performance artist), Black Stalin, Sean Daniel (gospelypso) etc.
The consummate musician was also a vocal soloist and later Director for several choirs in Jamaica, London and Trinidad. She is currently the Director of the Xavier School of Music, an entity focused on the promotion of globally-sound musical technique and indigenous musical styles. Believing in the need for constant training and improvement, Janelle recently learnt the viola. Experimenting with sound while doing her postgraduate studies, she found her sound-mate in its rich, mellow alto voice.
The gifted musician played the instrument by ear for a few months, then in two weeks, learnt a new musical clef, auditioned and was accepted for UTT’s Artiste Diploma in Music, under Simon Browne. After one year, she received a distinction at London Royal School of Music’s highest student grade (8), and in the second, received a 4.0 GPA on graduating the university. In addition to her other duties she is also a violist with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently also finishing her BFA Performing Arts specialising in the Viola under Simon Browne.
Violinist / Vocalist
At the age of 7, Janine picked up the violin and has never looked back. Known for her trademark smile and dynamic flow as a violinist, Janine has performed and toured the region with musical greats such as the late Ras Shorty I and the Love Circle, Black Stalin, Rikki Jai, Sheldon and Isaac Blackman, Sean Thomas and Ruth Osman and has benefitted from jazz mentoring from the late Dave Marcellin. Having spent some time in the UK, she performed on stages at the Notting Hill carnival, on the BBC radio and as a studio violinist.
An accomplished professional, she holds a MSc. Spatial Planning and BSc. Biological Sciences and enjoys a rewarding career. A skillful violinist, Janine also holds an Artist Diploma in Music Performance from the University of Trinidad and Tobago; has been a top performer in the Trinidad and Tobago Music Festivals over the years; held the first chair of second violins in the National Youth Orchestra, Trinidad and currently holds the 2nd chair of the first violins in the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago.
Rodney Harris is a gifted pianist who has graced the music industry of Trinidad and Tobago for many years with his riveting playing style and contemporary flair. His music training started at the age of 10 however, his musical journey really began at the age of 20. At that juncture, he began performing with a number of renowned gospel bands and artistes including the Love Circle, Melchizedek Order and Mr. Mention.
His love for music and passion for jazz further led him to partner with many bands local and international acts in several esteemed jazz and world music festivals. These acts include the Sean Thomas trio, Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, Black Stalin, H2O PHLO, Steve Neaves and ZuZunGeng, Euphoria Jazz Project, Love Circle, Mikhail Salcedo Quintet, Clifford Charles and Friends, and the AuturoTappin Quintet. In 2007, he completed a B.Sc. Management and Computer Science from U.W.I. and Joined the Big Joined the Big Band orchestra, Divine echoes where he worked in the capacity of section leader for 4 years. It was in the orchestra where he was exposed to arranging and writing music for big band. He is now is currently pursuing a B.Mus in Performing Arts (music) at COSTAATT.
Presently, he traverses the international scene with the popular Soca band, Destra. Here he has been able to experiment with the fusion of jazz harmony with the fast pace Soca rhythms. In 2011, he joined the group Xavier Strings where he continues to explore his competence in arranging and performance.
Ferdinand Kevon La Fleur
Ferdinand La Fleur is a vivacious ball of energy that leaves a trail wherever he dares to venture. With excellent technique and a fertile melodic imagination, Ferdinand creates melodic bass lines that leap out from the depths of the rhythm section that demands attention. With a captivating smile, dancing, flamboyant performing style, entertaining is always at the forefront of his mind. As a talented composer, arranger and producer it is clear that his unique understanding of harmony is a great contribution to the music industry.
Born in Trinidad, Ferdinand grew up in Arima, where he played with visiting jazz and gospel icon, Jonathon Butler and many other gospel artistes including Sherwin Gardener, Shiselon, Angela Williams Jadee and many others building a reputation as a local living legend. His career took on new heights when he was approached by international steel drum artiste, Professor Ken Philmore, who has been a living legend since the 70’s, to be his touring bassist. Once word got around, he started playing with local jazz bands creating hits with fellow musicians. He worked as a full time musician with the Divine Echoes’ “Big Dance Band” and developed his craft as an arranger. He has performed as the Bassist for Xavier Strings since 2011. With all these accomplishments under his belt Ferdinand still remains humble thanking the Almighty daily.
Drummer / Percussionist
Tamba Gwindi is Trinidadian by birth and has been performing for over thirty five years. His inclination to rhythm was discovered, shaped and molded initially by his father Carlton Olton , The Nantambu Drummers and Micheal ’Toby’ Tobas. His entry unto the local professional circuit came through the ‘’National Action Cultural Committee’ ’and Andre Tanker in 1983 and continued to the present with artists such as Ella Andall, Lord Kitchener, The Mighty Sparrow. ‘’Happy’’ Williams, Clive and Carlton Alexander , David Rudder, Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Signal Alumni Choir, Andy Narell, Percy Sledge, Enrique Pla Garcia, Ronald’’Boo’’ Hinkson, Ernie Ranglin , Theron Shaw ,Wayne Bruno and the Rapid Response Band ,T.K Blue, Fitzroy Coleman, Len ‘’Boogsie’’ sharpe and Phase 2 Pan Groove, Tunde Jegede , Imij and Company, Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore , Elan lopez Mousa ,Hugh Masekela, lord Street Theatre company, Gerard Hayward, Ralph McDonald and the New York All Stars and many more, live and in studio. Tamba is also the recipient of the Cacique Award 1994 for the Theatre production ‘Jean & Dinah’’. The Order of St.Clement Emancipation Award 1996, the N.A.C.C. top 20 Award 1999 and The Ujamaa Ambatana & Southern Emancipation Committee Awards 2004 & 2006. He has appeared on the international stage at the St. Lucia Jazz and Antigua Jazz festivals in the early 90’s, The Martinique Guitar Fest 2000, Muhtadi Drum Fest Toronto 2004, Plymouth Jazz 2005 & 2008 ,Jazz On The Hill [ B.V.I ] & numerous Pan Jazz Festivals locally .
He has also been involved in music education programs through the Ministry of Education and Culture,’’ Pan in schools’’, N.I.H.E.R.S.T, The Emancipation support committee and at workshops at the University of Edmonton Canada .Tamba served as Musical Director of two Theatre Productions staged by the Creative Arts Center of the University of the West Indies Trinidad,’’Sango Tale of the Orishas’’ in 1996 and ‘’Maria Antonia in 2013. In 2007 he landed an endorsement deal with the German Percussion manufacturer Meinl. He travelled to Cuba in 2009 as the manager of the Divine Echoes Orchestra [ Office of the Prime Minister ] and continued in that capacity until 2012 .He presently freelances and performs with Len ‘’Boogsie’’Sharp and Friends ,Louis and The Lynx Band , Siparia Deltones Steel Orchestra, Segue, Wayne Bruno and The Rapid Response Band , Xavier Strings and Juliet Robin and friends while pursuing his private music education program focused on the nation’s youth.
Jonathan Hensley was born into a musical family and started playing the drums at a very young age in his church. As he got older he developed his theoretical skills under the guidance of Mr. Sonalal “Killer” Samaroo. He became a member of the Divine Echoes Orchestra in 2007 and continued until 2012 performing in several Government functions, concerts, dinner and dance events around the country. His experiences influenced him to play various styles; such as Gospel, Calypso, Soca, Latin, and Jazz. He worked with a host of calypsonians, jazz, and gospel artistes locally and internationally; such as The Baron, Jonathan Butler, Hugh Masekela, Sherwin Gardner and Xavier Strings, just to name a few. He was a drum tutor at the Trinbago Woodwind and Brass Workshop, Soul Sessions band room and occasionally conducts private drum classes. He has travelled and played in the United States, Costa Rica, Belize, Cuba, British Virgin Islands, and toured throughout the Caribbean.