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1970 saw the departure of Mitchie. He migrated to the United States to further his musical career with the US Army leaving the way open for James Clarkson, a member of the Royal Grenada Police Force Band, to become the band's formal arranger.

This was indeed a new era. With the musical talents of James "Wakax" Clarkson, the new sound of the instruments and the outstanding talent of the pannists the Harps went about setting the standard for pan as the decade of the seventies began. The Harps were indeed, the band. Not one sports event took place without the Harps at Queens Park. The boys were in high demand. To play in the Harps you had to be able to play, you had to be good. Clarkson recalls that one of the things that stand out vividly in his mind from that era was the skill and discipline of the players.

He recalls this story; the band was practicing a number of classical pieces in December 1972 for some concert performances with the Royal Grenada Police Force Band. A few days before the first of the scheduled concerts was to take place, Clarkson discovered a major problem. The Harps instruments were not tuned in Concert C but instead tuned in C#. This meant that the Police Band, were practicing in Concert C, and the Harps were playing in a different key, a half tone above. After relating the problem to the players, Clarkson still expresses wonder at the shock he got the next day when he went to the panyard and the guys told him 'don't worry, we fixed it up'. They had spent the entire previous night working out the music in the new keys.

Entry into the Harps was a difficult thing for any young boy at this time. With the Harps being the only functioning steelband from the community the conditions were ripe for the formation of another steelband. It was in this period that the Panasonic Steel Orchestra came into being. Given birth by people like Gordon "Monarchy" Bain, Trevor "Father" Emmanuel, the band rose to prominence in George Street, next to the lime factory and within a stone’s throw of the Coals Market, where the Harps were located.

In 1972, the impossible happened. The upstart Panasonic, appearing in their first and only Panorama competition beat all and sundry, Harps included, to run away with the Championship. The Harps that year blamed their inconsistent rhythm section for the loss. The very next year, with the migration of a number of the original members of the Harps, the members of Panasonic merged with the Harps.

In 1973, under the musical directorship of Clarkson, the band produced its first recording "Brighter out of Darkness" recorded in Barbados, won the National Panorama competiton, and then lost Clarkson when he left to study music abroad.

With Clarkson’s departure, a young prodigy by the name of Michael "Boose" Cyrus took over the arranging responsibilities for the band. Michael had started playing pan at a very tender age and was the first to start the CokeBox Brigade (small players who have to stand on a Coca Cola crate to reach the pan). For a brief period prior to this people like Arthur Coard and Jeffrey Japal did a bit of arranging for the band.

The band also moved into Tanteen, to the location it occupies to this day vacating the Coals Market for construction of the Carenage Fish Market which stands on the spot today.

The captaincy of the band also changed around in the decade of the seventies mainly due to migration of band members. Lester gave way to Speck Mecks who gave way to Cosley Boyke; to Arthur Coard, Clevoy 'Depo' Depradine, Colville "Kamau" Mc Barnette, and Wilbur "Williby" Thomas.

In 1978, under the captaincy of "Kamau" McBarnette, the band produced its second recording "As Prescribed" at the KH Studios in Port of Spain. The musical arrangers on this album were Michael Cyrus, Trevor Emmanuel and Keith Rougier.

1978 also saw the Band's return to the Panorama Championships after a four-year absence, having last appeared in the competition in 1973 when they were winners. The Harps placed second to Guinness City Symphony led by Kenneth ‘Teloti’ Hood but it was an impressive debut for young arranger Michael "Boose" Cyrus whose two arrangements of Kitchener's Pan in the 21st Century and Sparrow's Doo Doo Yay Me (Natasha), signalled the emergence of a very talented young man with a far way to go. However, with the Revolution taking the Island by storm in March 1979 and the subsequent lean years that followed for the band, prevented the Harps from competing in Panorama until 1983.

The Peoples Revolution of 1979 saw the band begin another struggle in its existence when quite a number of players left to become members of the new Revolutionary Government and Armed Forces. The band also toured Cuba as part of the Grenada contingent for Carifesta Cuba 1979. And the migration of leading players to North America continued. It was in that period that the captaincy of the band went to Wilbur "Williby" Thomas, a younger brother of Walter "Dictator" Thomas.

Angel Harps

Much has changed from the early days to now. For one, the membership of the orchestra is more dynamic ranging in ages from age 9 to over age 55. Today the membership is almost split 50/50 among males and females most of whom have come through the band's Junior Programme and are still attending school. 

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GONI : la plateforme où tout s'échange
GONI : la plateforme où tout s'échange