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BAJAN CULTURE: Passion still in Promise

Ena Thompson

BAJAN CULTURE: Passion still in Promise

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The veteran gospel group won’t fall between the cracks and disappear as so many others have done over the years. That’s according to bass guitarist of the revolutionary group, Promise, James “Timmy” Morgan. It is true that Morgan and James Leacock are the only two founding members remaining
in the 30-year-old line-up. And yes, its public performances decreased in recent times but gospel lovers can expect an extraordinary blessing at the events planned by the band this year.
These activities include a partnership with Harbour Master Cruises for a series of dockside concerts and cruises, which they are hoping will start soon, and participation in this month’s Agrofest and Lime Gospel Challenge, produced by Starcom Network which is set to come off in June.
Morgan said the passion for ministering in song has remained with the group since it started in 1981, and even though the group has experienced membership changes along the way, its focus remained on singing the praises of God and raising the standard of gospel music in Barbados.
“Being born and raised in Christian environments, members were always committed to using this medium to proclaim the gospel,” Morgan told Bajan Culture.
So far, the group has had six successful cd releases and continues to write and record its own songs.
Morgan noted that because of the outstanding reputation of the trendsetting band, there was seldom any difficulty recruiting members.
He added that there were still several talented musicians spread throughout the churches in Barbados, but with the increase in independent churches, a lot of the talent has been focused on ministry under the umbrella of individual churches. This trend has negatively impacted attendance at gospel concerts and gospel bands appear to be almost extinct.  
The high cost of producing concerts is also a factor in the reduction in gospel concerts. A lot of work is therefore required by promoters of events to encourage groups to bring their music to the public and re-energise the gospel scene.
“I am hoping that once again some groups will bring their ministry from within the church and hold concerts like we did in the 1980s at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed and other popular venues. Back then, the gospel music scene was very vibrant, with a lot happening as it relates to gospel bands,”
Morgan noted. “One person that has been keeping it alive is Adrian Agard, producer of Gospelfest. To my mind, that is the only time that you get interdenominational groups coming together in one place to minister.”
On the subject of recordings, Morgan said that recently, recording artistes were mainly solo acts and gospel artists were moving away from the band/group set-up.
“Recording is a costly endeavour and while I believe artists would like to get their music out there, it can be a financial burden due to the lack of available resources,” he added.
Many of the local groups would readily admit that in addition to financial challenges with regard to recording, there was often a lack of sponsorship or finances to coordinate and produce concerts.
Plans are in progress for Promise to tour New York later this year in collaboration with Reverend Tony Lowe, of the Prayer Palace Ministries.