NIU held a tribute concert Sunday to honor Cliff Alexis, who joined the university’s school of music in 1985.
Alexis helped establish steelpan studies as a major at NIU.
He’s originally from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; it's where he started playing the steelpan at age 14.
“When I was young, most people gravitate toward the steel pan, especially coming from where I came from," he said. "I came from an underprivileged neighborhood, and that was one of the things to do.”