COLUMN – A gospel mix to feast on
There is another big gospel music feast being prepared for Barbadians within the next two months. With the February 21 and 22 Queens Of Gospel extravaganza already whetting apetites all across the land, the producers of The Break Every Chain Concert are laying out a table before us with their Caribbean Praise Fest –– Barbados Edition at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex Wildey Gymnasium on March 28.
So, by the end of March, at least, fans of great gospel music, would have enjoyed sumptuous buffets with mouth-watering menus which are not presented every day, month, or even year. If we look ahead to the March concert for example, one can anticipate such musical goodness as Shine The Light, the group out of St Croix, US Virgin Islands, Jamaican reggae artist Kevin Downswell, Fenton Harry from St Vincent and the Grenadines, and representing Barbados, De Warrior and Neesha Woodz.
Of course, there will be more on the March menu. For planning purposes, that Caribbean-flavoured concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Turning now to the Queens Of Gospel late next month, that is going to comprise a much wider and varied musical fare that is expected to get you hyper. When you consider Barbados will –– again –– be hosting some of the greatest proponents of Christian music on this planet, it is certainly going to be a royal feast. The line-up is mind-boggling.
Let us list just some of the legends of the art form performing: Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, Michelle Williams and Erica Campbell. Locally, we are talking about Sister Margrita Marshall, Neesha Woodz, Toni Norville and Laurianne.
Let us whet the appetite a little bit more for those who want to hear and see the artists, whose music you have been singing or humming, but are not so familiar with in their ministry. For instance, many people hear the popular number Say Yes [When Jesus Say Yes, Nobody Can Say No] and may not be aware that Tenitra Michelle Williams, commonly known as Michelle Williams, who is scheduled to perform at Queens Of Gospel, sings that with pop diva Byoncé.
While Byoncé will not be present, I am sure the audience will demand that song, and Michelle may oblige them. Williams is an American recording artist and songwriter who rose to fame in the 2000s as a member of R&B girl group Destiny’s Child, one of the bestselling female groups of all time.
During the group’s hiatus, Michelle released her debut solo album Heart To Yours (2002) which topped the United States gospel album chart and became the bestselling gospel release of the year. Also in 2002, Billboard named her the fifth Top Gospel Artist Of The Year, and she received a MOBO Award for Best Gospel Act.
Following this she released Do You Know? (2004) which gained her a nomination for Best Gospel Act at the 2004 MOBO Awards.
After Destiny’s Child was disbanded in 2005, Williams released her first pop album –– Unexpected (2008), which spawned the internationally charting single We Break The Dawn and the US dance number one The Greatest.
Her fourth studio album, Journey To Freedom (2014) was critically acclaimed and became her highest charting album in America, preceded by lead single If We Had Your Eyes that reached the US Adult R&B Top 20 and the Soul Train-nominated Say Yes that charted internationally and topped the US Hot Gospel Songs chart for seven weeks.
Take Yolanda. She has got a list of hits a mile long –– Still I Rise, The Battle Is The Lord’s, Open My Heart, I Believe I Can Fly, The Prayer and In The Midst Of It All.
Erica Campbell is one half of the gospel duo Mary Mary. Her sister, the other half, is Tina. As a duet, they have popularized songs like Shackles, Can’t Give Up Now, Go Get It, God In Me, I Worship You, Get Up and Thank You. The vast majority of Erica’s reportoire comprises what she and her sister perform.
Our home-grown people like De Warrior and Neesha are well known for their hits De Blood, When Yuh Bless Yuh Bless
(De Warrior) and Adrenaline, Express Yourself (Neesha).
Laurianne (formerly Laurianne Caines, now Morris) is a Trinidadian-based Barbadian female vocalist who won the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest in 2002. Laurianne, who launched her debut album Journey To Survival in Barbados in late November, 2014, also performed at the recent Barbados Music Awards, and was well received by visiting international headliners. The singer/songwriter performs alternative and R&B and is currently promoting her single Believe, which is one of the tracks from her album.
Toni Norville, who produced the gospel album Rain, has another release on the way. But this one will be very different. Entitled The Art Of Storytelling, Toni will be baring her soul after going through several years of challenging times, including a divorce. However, with thanks to God, Toni, who has been intimately connected to the musical Forrester clan, through marriage, is now back on track and boasting happiness.
So, everyone, get ready for an unforgettable time of soul, inspiration, Caribbean rhythm and a mixture of wonderful music at the Queens Of Gospel Concert at the Wildey Gymnasium on February 21 and 22!