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BAJAN CULTURE: For love of gospel music

Ena Thompson

BAJAN CULTURE: For love of gospel music

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THERE ARE MANY UNSUNG heroes among us who give of their time, talent and sometimes money, to an area they deem extremely vital to the overall development of this country.
Gospel music promoter Mike Cummins can be lauded as an individual, who unselfishly laid a foundation on which others could build.
His desire to raise the standards of gospel music and the promotion of Barbadian gospel artistes led to renewed interest in concert attendance and the revamping of the local gospel music scene, since he started promoting in the early 1980s.
According to Cummins, the idea to go into music promotion came at a point in his life when he was experiencing personal tribulation and was searching and asking God what was his life’s purpose.
Cummins found those answers while attending various local gospel concerts which he said he found unexciting and mediocre in performance.
“I thought that if they got better and raised the standard of performances, they would attract more people . . . and I was thinking, if I am going to be part of this faith, it has got to be the best.”
In 1981, the new kid on the block hosted his first gospel concert at the Queen’s Park Theatre. That concert was the first of many produced by Cummins who founded the MSC (Music Sports and Christian) Productions the following year. The group organised various shows and concerts throughout the island; one being the popular Choir Festival which was started in 1985.
Cummins’ unwavering devotion to the gospel music industry, and his efforts to keep the buzz alive, subsequently led to the launch of Flame Christian Awards in 2000.
Those awards highlight the best in local gospel music, with the objective of rewarding excellence in the performance of Christian artistes, encouraging artistic excellence in effective Christian ministry, and showing appreciation to artistes dedicated to the pursuit of excellence.
“It is about being creative and creating a product to keep people interested. I wanted to create an industry that when the secular artiste became Christian, that there was something there to sustain them. That was the whole purpose behind the awards. I wanted gospel artistes to be the best at what they were doing.
“It was never about me. Everything was always a sacrifice,” he said.
“I gave my time, used my money, and I never benefited financially from anything I did. It was all about helping people.”
Cummins is conducting various workshops in an effort to train young, talented artistes how to minister through song.
“This is to train them how to sing properly (vocal training), and to teach them the art of ministry, because I found a lot of the local artistes could not communicate well on stage.
“I made some mistakes over the years, so I try to tell them about these mistakes and I try to instil in them having a good attitude. Because if anything else, it is that attitude that is going to take them far.”