One of the least known and appreciated of all the pan pioneers of Trinidad and Tobago is Belgrave Bonaparte, the leader of the La Brea steelband Southern Symphony.
Southern Symphony, a pioneering steelband, was the first to introduce the reading of music while playing to the steelband , according to sources like Junior Pouchet and Ray Holman.
This band also introduced pan legends like tuners and musicians Alan Gervais , Lincoln Noel and arranger Earl Rodney.
Bonaparte was also an original member of the legendary TASPO Steel orchestra that introduced Britain and Europe to the steelband in the early 1950s.
Belgrave Bonaparte was also one of the few panmen to successfully transition to conventional music when, after being away from Trinidad for a number of years , he and his brothers returned to Trinidad as the Bonaparte Brothers dance band , which quickly gained popularity and a following in the Trinidad music scene of the early 1960s.
For the longest while . I’ve been trying to get an example of the sound of that band , and I’ve finally found one.
From the late 1960s,here is the Bonaparte Brothers Dance Band and “Watermelon Man”.