The National Anthem just after 6 p.m. on Saturday signalled the start of what turned out to be an awesome evening of praise, worship and entertainment.
And the lady of the moment was Allison Norville-Forde; and the free event, held at The People’s Cathedral Church, was the launch party for the album I Am A Winner.
The 14-track album is a mixture of reggae, pop and R&B-influenced gospel songs that, says Allison, chronicles her “life’s testimony so far”.
MC for the night was Marissa Boyce of Gospel 97.5 fm, and the performances were of the highest quality, including the dance by Youth Synergy.
Psalmist Jamel was the first musician on stage, doing the song Make Your Glory, Lord, with a hint of Aaron Neville à la the nasal. Hoszia Hinds was next, and he did not disappoint. He gave an energetic three-song performance, with backing band, that had everyone moving to his reggae beat.
Then came Toni Norville, in splendid voice, and Sherwin Gardner, who presented great vocal range and control.
However, most of those in the packed church and auditorium were there to see the light shine upon Allison Norville-Forde. The classically trained vocalist sang ten songs, including the title track I’m A Winner and Every High Thing Must Come Down. The latter saw her being joined on stage by a horn section and The Silvertones Of Barbados, of which she is musical director.
All of the songs Allison sang were well received – including those in which she was joined separately by Sherwin Gardner and Hoszia Hinds. The headliner also did a cover of Fred Hammond’s Perfect And True, with Paula Hinds in powerful harmony.
Allison, who would celebrate her birthday three days later, declared during her set that the album launch was “the best birthday gift I ever had”.
The Flame Awards double winner said that Sherwin Gardner was the one who had produced the tracks and had written most of the songs, after she had given him a testimony about her life during an interview. Gardner used Allison’s testimony write songs chronicling her struggles and eventual success.
Allison hopes her album will bring about some positive change to listeners, and that they understand that “God sees in them so much more than they see in themselves”.