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Concern for music and its emotional
capacity to inspire and influence seems to
be the essence of Mickey Mills' attitude to
ward his work. Mills, who will perform as the
last act on Sunday's program, may very well
have the most fascinating personal history
of the festival's musicians.
Mills began his career in steel drums at
the age of 12 in Trinidad and Tobago, his
birthplace. As a member of the Solo Harmo
nite Steel Orchestra, he travelled to Suri
nam, Barbados, and Africa.
Mills moved to New York City, and added
to his unique list of credits experience with
such artists as Johnny Mathis and Mick Jag
ger. Since moving to the Triangle Area, he
has played as a guest steel drum percussion
ist with the Chapel Hill based calypso, soca,
and reggae band Sunfire. As many Chapel
Hill residents may recall, Sunfire opened
shows for reggae singer Peter Tosh on the
Duke campus and for Spyro Cyra in Memo
Mills, however, is a musician with social
concerns. His extensive public service work
includes performances and musical work
shops for children in the local school sys
tems. His love and deep concern for children
are best expressed by the lyrics to a song he
wrote in 1981.
What children need most is love
And it doesn't cost much to give.
You can run away, like a flying dove
Or you can stay, help a child to live.
Love the little children.
Children need love. " .
On Sunday, Mills will perform with his
own band, Mickey Mills and Steel. Steel
brings together Mills' steel drum percussions
and keyboard and bass sounds from Joel
Keel, Bryan Banfield and Otto Brooks. The
group blends elements of jazz, latin and ca
lypso music to achieve a jazz sound which
retains the charm of Mills' West Indian roots.
Although all of the musicians visiting the
Carolina campus on Sunday are serious
about their music and the growth of its pop
ularity throughout the state, coordinator
Larry Thomas emphasizes that the after
noon's primary intention is to entertain.
"We're not trying to do anything special."
he says. "We just want people to have a good
time." He adds that these musicians love to
play. In addition, he welcomes picnickers to
make a day of the events, and he assured that
those who attend are in for a rare treat
Frank Bruni is a staff writer for The Daily
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