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Gospel thrill

Eric Smith

Gospel thrill

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There is something for everyone in the Crop Over Festival and this was evident with the gospel concert held at Ilaro Court on Thursday night. It was an occasion to make a joyful noise without behaving bad or getting on rude.
Oh, what a glorious four hours of entertainment patrons were treated to for what was the fourth annual concert of gospel held to a large audience spread across the lawns at the Prime Minister’s official residence.
And even though the event may have gone past its scheduled time by about 20 minutes, patrons would surely have enjoyed what was offered. they got value for their money; and the sponsors must be elated that they put their money and services behind a good product. Very few people left before the show ended, which was a good indication of the high interest.
From the dancers representing groups Psalm 150 and those with New Dimensions to the choice of performers of the evening show, producer Sheldon Hope and the team at the National Cultural Foundation and Nouvelle Vie must be congratulated for putting together a delightful combination.
It was not a boring event for a bunch of dowdy females or fundamentalist Christian men. It was a joy to see so many young people enjoying wholesome lively entertainment without any suggestive lyrics or the MCs going low in an effort to get the crowd buzzing.
So that when Ricky Broomes and his band Chosen Generation took to the stage, they set the mood for what turned out to be an opportunity to enjoy the infectious Caribbean rhythms and be able to rejoice in ministry through song.
For those who know little about local gospel music outside of Sister Marshall, Joseph Niles, The Silvertones and Promise, it most likely opened their eyes to the energy of the acts and helped them to understand that gospel music is not a distant second to the other entertainment offered during Crop Over.
Broomes and his band got the crowd out of their seats, or off the ground for those on the hillside, and on their feet, something most of the calypsonians don’t achieve in the tents. This celebration continued throughout the night in varying degrees, depending on the artiste and the song.
One of the noticeable things about Broomes was his singing with his left hand firmly planted in his pocket throughout his onstage presentation. It peaked the curiosity of many.
Offstage he indicated why. As a teenager he got into a motor cycle accident which severely damaged the nerves in the hand. This has not deterred him from promoting the ministry in song, encouraging his son and daughter to follow in his footsteps, nor has it curtailed his day job as a painter.
Promise, a local household name, displayed both their range and experience during their presentation. After 33 years of performing, this band knows its craft.
Lead singer James Leacock and bassist James Morgan are the two original members still there. Leacock, with his phrasing sounding very much like Gabby, had good support from Andrea Chase who has been singing with the band since 1992 and Hope, a former lead vocalist for three years when he stood in for Leacock.
Promise made a joyful noise, and those whom Chosen Generation could not get up out of their seats were moved to do so by Leacock and company did.
Ronnie Clarke a.k.a. De Announcer could sit still no more, as was the case with some of the older folk, while Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, in the front row, nodded his head, tapped his feet and sang the refrain “praise the Lord, praise Him”.
Two Trinidad gospel performers were part of the night’s package. There were similarities in their presentations, yet differences in their pulsating styles.
J Prince, for instance, offered conscious lyrics in his songs and was able to work up the crowd with his Fire, which was clearly popular, especially among the younger members of the audience. The harmonies of the backup singers were simply melodious.
The other Trinidadian Sean Daniel was a bomb. This youth minister knows his craft, can work the stage and can easily be compared to David Rudder. Wow, talk about praise and worship in music. His message connected with those present through his songs: Running; Jesus Alone; No Ring, No Thing; Magnet; and Waving Thing.
And then there was De Warrior who brought the show to a fitting end. He had earlier been joined on stage by Allison Norville, a true songbird. Warrior understands entertainment and in previous times as Daddy Iroy made a name in the secular world. Now, there’s no turning back for Leroy Brathwaite.
For all those who didn’t make the concert this year, put it on your 2015 calendar as an event not to miss – God willing.