Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra arranger Leon “Smooth” Edwards was denied entry to the funeral of steelpan legend Neville Jules on Friday. The doors of the Trinity Cathedral were closed after ten people had entered.
Edwards said when he reached the church, he was told the police said the maximum number of people allowed to congregate, as per the government’s mandate, were already present and so he would not be allowed to enter. He said he was able to go to the cemetery for the burial and interact with the family.
Edwards said there were not a lot of other people trying to get into the church. He said he had spoken to Jules’ wife the previous day, and she, along with their children and Jules’ children from a previous marriage were attending, and the number was close to ten.
“I was supposed to be one of the ten but somebody got in the door before me and, I guess when the people who were checking realised that they had reached ten, they sealed off the door. That’s what it is.”
Jules was a major contributor to the development of the steelpan, having transitioned from the tamboo bamboo after the second world war in the 1940s. He began his steelband career tuning for the Hellyard Steelband but left after a few years to form All Stars where he became captain, tuner, and arranger. He was credited with contributing to the development of the single pan, tenor pan, bass pan and guitar pan.