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Too Smart!

Kenmore Bynoe

Too Smart!

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Everdene Smart became the winner of the first LIME Gospel Challenge, after giving an emotive rendition of Alabaster Box, holding off strong presentations from nine other singers at the Frank Collymore Hall on Saturday night.The serenity of Smart reflected the disposition of all the contestants,who admitted that the competition was a far second to their agenda of ministering to the audience in the Hall, as to the thousands following on Gospel 97.5 and the worldwide web – thanks to Starcom Network Inc.When Smart was announced winner at the end of a night whose only flaw was that there were still some empty seats, the supportive audience erupted in approval. It was obvious from the outset that her performance could only be matched by contestant Adrian Allen who placed second.  At the announcement Smart’s parents Brenda and Alvin and her church friends were jumping and cheering, mum Brenda close to tears.The night of top-class gospel began with Promise’s musical treat for the early birds of the 6:30 p.m. show. The inimitable Ronnie Clarke was a refreshing change to emceeing, keeping the programme flowing while constantly proclaiming the Gospel to a responsive audience.First contestant Allen set an intimidating standard for the other nine performers with a “worship team” presentation of Jesus, I Love You. Well dressed from head to toe, the beanpole-size Allen amazed everyone with his powerful voice, booming from so small a frame, and the passion and energy he displayed as he danced around the stage. It all whipped the audience into a religious fervour.By the time Allen was ready to leave the stage, most patrons were standing, waving and dancing in the aisles as the contestant showed that he loved the Lord with all his heart. It earned him 429 points.Unfortunately, Akeelah Clarke with I Need You, Nicole Clarke with Don’t Give Up and a nervous Rashida Green with the popular Redeemer could not match the performance of the opening singer. On any other day, or night, the three would have each got a standing ovation.That ovation was held back for Kellyann Trotman who mesmerised with I’m Gonna Be Ready in clear voice. Three minutes after Trotman had danced off the stage, the fans were still cheering for a performance that would later earn her the third spot with 400 points.Norman Haynes came out in white pants with stars, a green shirt with butterflies and a tie with the word Life to give his interpretation of Now I Have Life. His obvious talent did not gel with the choice of his song.A hush fell over the Hall when Smart emerged from the shadows dressed in a beautifully tailored black outfit and opted to sing with the microphone on the stand. It soon became clear why: she needed her hands to give a graphic depiction of the alabaster box and to express her passion.  Ironically, when Smart repeated the song, after being declared the winner, with microphone in hand she gave an even better performance – an act that could have earned earlier more than her 448 points.The final three performances saw Kristina Carter rendering Mercy Said No,  Zoe Armstrong singing In Better Hands Now, and fourth-placed Lehanna Ryce doing justice to That Name with the sincerity of her faith coming through in her powerful voice. She earned 399 points.Smart earned the LIME Gospel Challenge 2010 Trophy and $5 000; Allen, $2 500; Trotman, $1 500; and Ryce, $1 000. All of the other placings received $500.Before the results came back the well nourished audience was given dessert by Ricky Broomes, formerly of Chosen Generation, and First Lady of Gospel Sister Marshall.