Panorama Gold

Fonclaire Steel Orchestra

2017 Tune of choice:  Panorama Soldiers  |  arranger:  Ken “Professor” Philmore

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Hailing from San Fernando, Fonclaire was formed in 1965 by a group of people that included Milton "Wire" Austin, Kenneth "Sharkhead" Arthur, Hatim Lalla, Mervyn Scott, and the Swanson brothers. The band adopted its name from two adjoining streets in San Fernando: Fonrose and Claire. From 1965 to 2014, Fonclaire had four sponsors: Joseph Sabga & Sons, Ltd; NBC; Vat 19; and NLCB. The band made its impact on the steelband music scene in the 1970s with Rudine Austin as arranger. Ken Philmore assumed this position from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s and led the band to many Panorama finals. info from  Steelband - Fonclaire - R. Emrit

NLCB Fonclaire is led by Milton ‘Wire’ Austin, one of the remaining founding members of the band. Celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, Wire recalls that the journey of his band began in 1965. He and a group of young people living in and around the present panyard pooled together their innate ability to create melodious sounds from inanimate objects, like the oil drum, and formed the steel orchestra. The band derived its name from two adjoining streets—Fonrose and Claire—in the country’s second city of San Fernando, where the majority of the members dwelled. In its early years the band searched for a unique sound and character to distinguish itself from other pan sides.

In the four decades since Fonclaire evolved, taking on different appellations with each new sponsor—Joseph Sabga & Sons Ltd, NBC, Vat 19 and now NLCB—the band systematically tested its musical skill and knowledge in its pursuit of excellence. The breakthrough came in 1971, the year of the historic tie in the National Panorama final between Solo Harmonites and CIBC Starlift. Fonclaire, playing a soulful Rudin and Austin arrangement of the Mighty Duke’s Carnival in Trinidad, placed fourth in the competition. The band was adjudged ‘People’s Choice’ and led to Fonclaire securing the distinguishing sound it craved, becoming known as the band with “the Soul Beat.”  Pioneering a mixture of vocals with steel, accompanied by funk and soul beats with a Caribbean flavour, proved to be a winning combination for this leading steelband. Two successful LPs followed: “Funk and Steel and Funk,” and “Steel and Brass,” with vocals by Elton Xavier.

Always a contender for the yet elusive National Panorama title, Fonclaire has done the City of San Fernando proud. It placed second in 1975 with a Lord Kitchener composition, Spree Simon, and again consecutively in 1989, 1990 and 1991. Fonclaire also placed third in 1986 with another Kitchener made-for-pan calypso, Pan Here to Stay but the band’s most memorable performance to date, was its scintillating rendition of Ken “Professor” Philmore’s arrangement of Pan by Storm in 1990. Across the globe, in North and South America, Canada and the Caribbean, they have won rave reviews with their repertoire of seventy-two selections in different styles such as jazz, gospel, contemporary, hot soca, sweet soca, vintage kaiso, reggae, Cuban/Latin American, pop and R&B. Fonclaire has also had the distinction of performing with internationally renowned recording artiste Billy Ocean, legendary jazz exponent Clive Zanda and reggae band Aswad. The steelband has also aligned itself with several international recording agents and consultants as it continues to revolutionise the sound and image of the instrument.


Additional info below posted with special permission from the  BestOfTrinidad.com by Ronald C. Emrit - check link for updates

Hailing from San Fernando, Fonclaire was formed in 1965 by a group of people that included Milton "Wire" Austin, Kenneth "Sharkhead" Arthur, Hatim Lalla, Mervyn Scott, and the Swanson brothers. The band adopted its name from two adjoining streets in San Fernando: Fonrose and Claire. From 1965 to 2006, Fonclaire had four sponsors: Joseph Sabga & Sons, Ltd; NBC; Vat 19; and NLCB. The band made its impact on the steelband music scene in the 1970s with Rudine Austin as arranger. Ken Philmore assumed this position from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s and led the band to many Panorama finals. Fonclaire finished among the top three steelbands in the following significant competition:
YEAR EVENT RESULT SELECTION ARRANGER
1975 Panorama 2nd Tribute to Spree Simon (Lord Kitchener) Rudine Austin
1986 Panorama 3rd Pan Here to Stay (Lord Kitchener) Ken Philmore
1989 Panorama 2nd (Tied) Fire Down Below (Lennox Sharpe) Ken Philmore
1990 Panorama 2nd Pan by Storm (Ken Philmore) Ken Philmore
1991 Panorama 2nd (Tied) Pan Ecstasy (Ken Philmore) Ken Philmore
Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit

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