St Lucia: The Government secured the expertise of the Late Barbadian Bandmaster, Nathaniel Joseph Griffith, and six vibrant young Saint Lucian men between the ages of 12 to 14 years, right out of primary school. They also selected a small compliment of regular Policemen who were musically inclined and expressed interest. The “Band Boys”, as they were baptized, soon became a household name throughout the length and breadth of sweet Helen. Now re-baptized “Bandsmen and Bands women”.
June 18, 1947, to June 18, 2022, marks 75 years of sound musical existence. The country is all tuned up, ready and proud to be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday, June 18, 2022. It is indeed befitting that St Lucia have a yearlong programme of activities to celebrate the milestone. A very royal and nostalgic calendar of activities has been created with you in mind, the very loyal fanatics and supporters. The Royal Saint Lucia Police Band pays homage to founding fathers, all in the land of the living and, posthumously, to those in the great beyond. Also, to all who have been trained, groomed, schooled, and passed through the walls of this Noble institution.
Bandmaster Nathaniel Joseph Griffith served for a number of years and was succeeded by the late Bandmaster Randolph Beckles, also of Barbadian nationality, who also served for a number of years. During the band’s formative years, it built a cadre of musicians that would become the creators of the country’s formal, cultural musical foundation.
The Band’s Founding Fathers are Lennox Niles, Cecil John, Carlos Mynns, Rudolph Charles, Eric Gittens, Nathaniel Jemmott, Olney Preville, Clement Springer, Talton John, Stephen Worrel, Kirby John Squires, Stephen Gaynia, Spooner, Beckles and Griffith. The musical tutoring and schooling of the bandmasters took effect and manifested in a well-rounded group of young musicians. To borrow a line from the then bandmaster Griffith “ to be the best band in the world is to be the best-trained band “.
Best trained bandsman Carlos Mynns was selected to pursue training at the prestigious institution Kneller Hall in the United Kingdom. Upon his return from his studies, he took over the leadership and directorship of the Police Band by becoming the first Saint Lucian national to lead this noble institution.
The band you know and have come to enjoy on every national parade, formal event, cultural show etc., was reshaped by this musical genius ideology. From the arrangement of the National Anthem to a number of musical arrangements played on the independence parade and on other traditional and cultural engagements are the arrangements of this great bandmaster, Superintendent Carlos Mynns. His style and preferred choice of notes remain a staple over the years in the band’s musical arrangements.
Carlos Mynns led, trained and served for a number of years with distinction, until 1990 when he transited to the heavenly orchestra in the great beyond, where he continues to create his music.
Assistant Superintendent Gerard Emmanuel took up the reigns of leadership of the band after the passing of Carlos Mynns. He held the position for one year.
In 1991, Superintendent Rudolph Charles was recalled from retirement to lead the Royal Saint Lucia Band. As Director of Music, he brought much experience to the band, being one of the founding members. Under his stewardship, the band saw the inclusion of females into the rank and file, which was predominantly male. That historic inclusion brought a new face and vision and broke gender barriers to the spectacle that you see and enjoy on every given occasion.
Superintendent David Myers took over the reins of leadership from Mr Rudolph Charles in 1994, upon his return from his studies at Kneller Hall in the United Kingdom. The instrumentation of this regimental and professional musical institution was then augmented to include vocal renditions, which was very interesting considering that the arrangements played by the band were principally instrumentals. That again introduced a new addition to this evolving musical institution. All within the country indeed welcomed it.
The inevitable and proud accession to the leadership and directorship of the band from within its own ranks remains an achievement worthy of mention.
The tradition and discipline of this national musical treasure continued with Superintendent Gregory Piper taking over the leadership in 2005 from David Myers. Gregory Piper served as director until 2011. He was succeeded by Assistant Superintendent David Pierre, who led and maintained the musical discipline until 2012, when Superintendent Timothy Mondesir took over the directorship.
Within its lifespan, the band have proudly represented the nation at many regional and national events, Independence parades, military tattoos and music festivals, to name a few. The band welcomed its first international travel and performance, taking part in a musical festival in Taiwan in the year 2018 under the directorship of Timothy Mondesir. In October 2019, the band travelled to Barbados to participate in a military tattoo involving many other military bands. The very famous YouTube viral video of the performance of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band in a Tattoo in Barbados is one that will also remain in the hearts of all Saint Lucians and music lovers.
As the entire globe was forced to treat the effects of the Covid19 pandemic, Saint Lucia was no exception. In particular, it saw the closure of the Police Band due to the protocols instituted. Band personnel were detached to various Police departments to augment the numbers in dealing with these protocols.
Invariably, that was the longest period the band had ever been detached and not functioning as a unit. Save for vacation leave.
Fast forward to 2022, the Band is under the capable command and directorship of Assistant Superintendent of Police Deland St Jules. Mr St. Jules is the task with leading us into the Diamond Jubilee of 75 years of existence. As opposed to the very small contingent of foundational members in 1947, he is charged with leading and conducting a membership of 45 in 2022 and beyond.
The duty of band members was made easy by the fact that historically the band has created and has been part of everything building the national pride of this nation. Playing at school events, community events, and religious and national events has become the modus operandi of this national musical treasure. As nation-building continues, St Lucians vow to continue partnering with all agencies that are of the same ethos and notation.
As the chronicle journey from 1947 to 2022, it is definitely befitting to say thank you to all current members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band. Continue taking pride in yourself and your nation whiles performing at universal standards on every occasion. The Police Band says thank you to the Government and the People of St Lucia for their continued support over the years. To the Police Commissioner and every other rank and file of this Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, the people salute you with a musical fanfare. To all former members of the band, and say thank you for your contribution to nation-building through the band.
To the future Bandsmen and Women, look forward to welcoming all to an institution of sound discipline and professionalism. It will be very interesting to usher in the technology as the crescendo into the future.