Barrels to Beethoven began as an exhibit to celebrate Leigh’s father, Phil Solomon. Prior to the event, Leigh dedicated six months to researching not only her father’s journey in steelpan culture, but learning what she didn’t know about the instrument, the culture, the history, and the people involved. Growing up with a builder, tuner, and player as a father, Leigh already knew a lot about the instrument, however, Leigh also knew there were many more stories to uncover. Through her research and during the celebration, Leigh realized that the exhibition could not be the end but was really the beginning of a new journey. A journey to tell her story, preserve her father’s legacy, teach accurate steelpan history, and most important, develop a new generation of makers that utilize her father’s exceptional methods to create beautiful instruments. Along with David Pugliano, Barrels to Beethoven has developed programming and curriculum that is immediately impactful that incorporates history, culture, music theory and technique.
Over the last 6 years the organization has engaged thousands of young people through workshops, performances, demonstrations, school courses and community events. Since inception, Barrels to Beethoven has received recognition and support from the global steelpan community including the Guyanese government, Trinidadian Associations for steelpan education, steelpan publications, steelpan musicians, and educators. All of whom understand the importance of preserving the history and teaching the craft, as well as the benefits of steelpan education for young people.