An institution

Adrian Agard
Adrian Agard

Numbering close to 100, the Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir has become an “institution” and a core element of the annual Barbados Gospelfest event.

Amazingly, with the exception of some changes here and there, the make up of the choir has remained intact for the past 20 years of the life of the festival. In other words, while the faces and names of the local, regional and international guest artistes may change with each production, patrons are guaranteed to experience, every time, the music and songs of the inspirational, dynamic and engaging mass choir under the baton of Musical and Artistic Director, Lester Welch.

Considered the biggest and most-anticipated extravaganza on the local gospel music calendar, the nine-day showcase is on our door steps once again. The choir has been putting in its weekly preparatory work, as members dedicate themselves to rehearsing another appealing repertoire of songs for the May 18 to 26 programme.

As usual, it is going to be nine days of varied appetising activities that include music, spoken word, comedy, a workshop and a lecture. †And talking about lecture, this year will be the second in the Joseph Niles Legacy Lecture Series, which comes off on the night of Thursday, May 23 at the Grand Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre, Central Bank of Barbados, beginning at 7:30.

This lecture is dedicated to the legendary Barbadian and world renown gospel singer, Joseph Niles, who is currently suffering from Alzheimer’s and is being cared for by his wife at home. Dr. Curwen Best, who presented the inaugural lecture, is expected this time around to dig deeper into the true worth and contribution of Niles to the art form and to Barbados.

The Barbados Gospelfest organisation will also be launching a special fund during the event, the proceeds of which will go to Niles’ wife to assist her in caring for him. The fund will be set up at Scotia Bank.

Musically, one can look forward to witnessing top local, regional and international acts such as Mali Music, Bridget Blucher, Atta Boafo, Nicole C. Mullen, Small Fire, Canton Jones and Barbadians Neesha Woodz, who launched her debut album last Saturday, John Yarde and promising saxophonist, Romaro Greaves.

Among the highlight events are Hymnspeak on May 22 at St.Mary’s Anglican Church, the Capita Financial Services Laughter and Jazz on May 24 at Divi Southwinds, the Signia Financial Group Artistes’ Development Workshop on May 25 at the Grand Salle, the LIME Ultimate Gospel also on the 25 at the Wildey Gymnasium and the One Awesome Day on the 26 at Farley Hill National Park.

Please see the attached video for the full interview with Executive Producer Adrian Agard and Artistic Director, Lester Welch, and some of the music of the Mass Choir during recent rehearsals.

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