The Angel Harps Steel Orchestra is perhaps Grenada's most well known steelband. "The Harps" or "The Wharf Band" as they are affectionately called by their fans and supporters, seem to have been around for as long as most people could remember steelband in Grenada. As the name 'The Wharf Band' suggests, the Harps has always been based in the Carenage (The Wharf) community but its membership has always been extended to persons living outside the community. Despite this though, the band has had deep ties with the community.
The "Harps" has over the last 43 years endured a life mixed with successes and failures, trials and tribulations and a number of changes in the sponsorship of the steel orchestra. Despite these mixed fortunes, the name and the band "Angel Harps" has always survived and today has graduated from being just another steelband and is now regarded as the "Institution of Pan" in Grenada. At Panorama each year, the objective of each steelband is to 'beat the Harps' whether the band is defending champion or not. Such is the satisfaction people enjoy when they beat the 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. In the early 1970's the first female player and, for a long time, the only female player to have played in the band was Antonia Bernard. 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. In the early days, mothers did not want their young sons to be anywhere near the pan house, much less their young daughters!!! The very wide cross section of persons involved with the Harps and other steelbands today illustrate the long strides that the pan movement has made and the acceptance, recognition and respect it is now given. Most of the pans are chromed and are on wheeled stands with canopies and the band consistently performs at Panorama with between 80-100 players each year.
It was yet another successful year for the Republic Band Angel Harps as the pride of our organization, our junior Harpers were able to yet again retain our Junior panorama championship under the stern leadership of now "Hattrick" arranger Jevon "Boots" Andrews. The then eleven (11) junior title holders took the stage with a mix of eighty (80) panist and percussion players defending with a tantilizing arrangement of "Trouble in the Morning" by the ever so popoular vaughn. Apart from the prosperity of the Junior Band, the Senior band lead by veteran James Clarkson enjoyed its own measure of success by placing second (2nd) in the annual "Pan Expressions competion" with a nostalgic rendidtion of "Africa" by ToTo being edged by two (2) points by a Cordell Byam lead New Dimensions, who also coupled with Flow Commancheros beat us to the senior Panorama title.
The "Harps" has always been in the forefront of developing & promoting the artform in Grenada and has a number of firsts to its credit in Grenada's steelband history.
In 1972, under the baton of James Clarkson, the "Harps" became the first Grenadian steelband to appear in Concert with the Royal Grenada Police Force Band. Indeed, this was the first local mixture of steel & brass. That same year, there was another first by becoming the first Grenadian Steelband to produce a record album, Brighter out of Darkness recorded in Barbados, under the musical direction of James Clarkson and managerial assistance from Mr. Evelyn Ross.
The Harps also has the distinction of being the first Grenada steelband to appear in the National Panorama finals with the entire band under canopies and on wheels. This set the lead for all the other bands to follow.