Lifting voices for Niles

by Emmanuel Joseph

The Silvertones of Barbados, now celebrating more than 30 years in the gospel music ministry, paid tribute to the godfather of gospel music, Joseph Niles, when the choir hosted its annual Super Gospel concert at the Whitepark Wesleyan Tabernacle last Saturday night.

As part of its set, the hosts brought the tabernacle to its feet, dancing and waving, as the members performed a medley of Niles’ biggest hits from his reportoire of over 50 years.

The several hundred patrons joined the Silvertones and raised their voices in song to such evergreens as Walking Up The Kings Highway, Swing Down Sweet Chariot, Scandalising My Name, This Train, I Know Where I’m Going and Try A Little Kindness.

At the completion of their tribute, the group moved into other renditions that included Let Us Adore Him in soca, Keep Those Bodies Holy, a Latin influenced piece composed by Vasco Greaves, leader of local gospel band, the New Connections, Yes Lord, a song which again saw worshippers dancing and Follow King Jesus, a number popularised by the Grace Thrillers out of Jamaica.

Other high points of the concert were performances by two of the greatest female voices anywhere, Barbadians Allison Norville-Forde, a vocal trainer, and Everdene Smart, the 2012 Flame Gospel Awards Female Vocalist of the Year and 2011 Richard Stoute Teen Talent winner.†Saxophonist Ricky Niles was his usual exceptional and sensational self, with creditable renditions coming from the Coleridge and Parry School Quartet, the First Baptist Chorale and emcee and former gospelypsonian and comic, Phillip St. Hill, who took the audience down memory lane with some of his old releases.

The Double Laugh Theatre of Jennifer Walker and Yolanda Holder brought much comic relief to patrons with a convincing message that reflected the focus of this year’s Super Gospel of HIV/AIDS awareness.

The headline act, Bridget Blucher, out of the United States, did not disappoint those who had turned out to hear and see her. Blucher opened her session with a groovy ballad of He Called Out My Name. However, by the time this energetic singer and evangelist had finished her second number, a reggae version of the popular Amazed, which had already lured people out of their seats and into the aisles and at the front of the stage, she decided to take off her shoes.

From there onward, she was in full flight, and showed her versatility by delivering Rock of Ages in a soulful mood, Send the Light, soca style, at which stage Blucher asked worshippers to take out their cellphones and lift them to the sky, At Calvary, another reggae piece, By the Rivers of Babylon, a haunting groovy rendition, Lift Up the Name of Jesus (soca), and I’ll Never Be the Same Again.†

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