Keith Waithe

Interview (Ealing Gazette)

Name: Keith Waithe


I’m a professional musician and composer, a flautist and band leader of the Keith Waithe and the Macusi Players. I’ve been playing most of my life in Guyana, South America, and here in England. I have one of the largest collections of flutes – 203 – from all over the world. I also hold workshops and master classes and have been a regular act over the last 20 years at Ealing Jazz festival. When I first started, there were about 150 people and last year there were 7,000. The band will also be closing the Hanwell Carnival this weekend. I’m also chairman of the Haiti Solidarity group based in Hanwell. We’re a group of community organisations and individuals from the Ealing area who have been touched by the disaster and we’re committed to raising money for the relief effort. For more information, visit

Marital Status

I’ve been married to Jan Parnell for 25 years and we have four children. Ashley who’s 35, Mark 33, Ayesha, 19, and Adam who’s 14.

Where do you live?


How long have you lived there?

About 15 years. I’ve always lived in West London after moving here from Guyana when I I received a scholarship to study music.

How do you get about?

Two means. By the nature of my work I have to use a car for all my musical instruments. I have 20 drums and do workshops in schools around the borough. I also believe in using public transport and use the bus a lot and the Piccadilly line train.

What do you love most about the borough?

The friendliness of people, the ethnic diversity and range of people from Poland, Africa, Caribbean, Asia and Somalia. And of course, because of my obsession with fresh air and spiritual things, I love the nature and the green spaces in Ealing.

What is your favourite restaurant?

Monty’s in Northfield Avenue. The food isn’t oily and the chefs are careful about what they cook for people. The biryani dishes are very nice. I’m clearly not a vegetarian and enjoy regular take-aways from there.

Favourite shop?

TK Maxx in Ealing Broadway as they have designer-type items and they are all reasonably priced.

Favourite bar/pub?

The Haven in Ealing – its a pub that you can sit and have a conversation in without being disturbed by really loud techo music. Although it might sound strange coming from me as I love music, you don’t have to shout to communicate there and like to have a quiet drink with just a little background music. I like a good glass of shiraz or pinot grigio.

If you could change one thing about the borough what would it be?

I would like to transport Ealing to the Guyana rainforest I have recently visited. I had the most amazing spiritual experience trekking and walking in the rainforest and met the first people of a tribe who settled in South America and they are such a peace-loving community. I would love for Ealing to be transformed with the people experiencing the same peace, the magic of the morning song birds, getting back to basics and being comfortable in your self and forgetting about insecurities.

If you were invisible for the day where would you go?

I would love to go to Cornwall to explore nature as it’s so beautiful and it has amazing beaches and dolphins there. I would want to see people’s reaction to the beauty and see how they feel.

How do you relax?

By playing the flute, gardening and going to gym.

Favourite film?

Avatar the 3D film partly because it reminds me of the kind of beauty we have in different places and the graphics and composition is phenomenal. The music really captures the mood of the film and there’s superb acting.

What keeps you awake at night?

I worry about people who are totally selfish and not sharing or communicating and I would want to encourage them to be more caring in society.

What is your favourite record?

As a musician I have so many! I love Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy as she has a beautiful voice which touches you with hope. I also like Redemption by Bob Marley and his pride in being the first Caribbean superstar. He brings together music art and power with a sense of humility.

Who do you most admire?

Barack Obama. I’m just about to get his new book. I believe he’s done a lot and is an example of positive hope for people across the world.

If your house was on fire what three things would you save?

Presuming my family were safe, I’d save my alto flute, the flute I use when I write music and for the spiritual side of my work. It has a deep resonating tone. I would save a book by Jan Carew as I would want to continue reading it and my 203rd flute made of bamboo by the Macusi tribe in South America.