The gospel show of all gospel shows!

High-Note-2It is the eve of perhaps the biggest red carpet gospel music event ever witnessed in Barbados.

An array of royal figures in the Christian music genre will converge on the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex tomorrow and Sunday for the long-awaited and much touted Queens Of Gospel Concert.

The list of headliners –– international and local –– are all awardees at varying levels, including a bevy of beautiful Grammy Award-winning superstars out of the United States.

In the house tomorrow will be visiting “bigwigs” Yolanda Adams and Michelle Williams, along with home-grown “bombshells” Neesha Woodz, Laurianne, Samantha Gooden and Toni Norville.

Michelle Williams (second left) and Yolanda Adams (right) arrived yesterday to the island.
Michelle Williams (second left) and Yolanda Adams (right) arrived yesterday to the island.

On Sunday, the musical temperature is expected to be turned up a little higher when global icons CeCe Winans, Erica Campbell and Shirley Murdock share the stage with local mother of gospel Sister Margrita Marshall, the multitalented songbird Toni Norville and Terencia TC Coward, known for her outstanding exploits in the calypso arena.

CeCe Winnans
CeCe Winnans
Toni Norville
Toni Norville

And if all of this was not enough, the two nights will be hosted by one of the greatest female songstresses in the Caribbean, Barbadian Paula Hinds and gospel radio personality Carita Dee.

If we look a little closer at some of the headliners, we would discover that Yolanda Yvette Adams is an American gospel singer, record producer, actress and radio host on WBLS. As of September, 2009, she had sold 4.5 million albums since 1991 in the United States, and nearly eight million albums worldwide, according to SpundScan.

One reviewer wrote of Yolanda: “I found out why Yolanda Adams had been coined one of the leading gospel singers in the industry when she walked on stage singing Open My Heart with no accompaniment. The American gospel and R&B artist has sold over eight million albums worldwide, and her performance showed me exactly why. She’s been named number one gospel artist of the last decade by the Billboard Magazine, and has also won many other prestigious awards.

“Her powerful yet controlled voice filled the auditorium, and held every audience member in silence. Singing, backed by a full orchestra, Adams’ voice was wonderfully complemented by the incredible instrumental talent. Her range in full voice is exceptional, and her addition of trills and riffs that don’t appear on her recordings was extremely exciting to hear performed.”

Turning to CeCe Winans now, if you ask her what drives her, the answer will be far removed from her endless list of accolades: bestselling albums, widespread industry recognition, and vast amounts of Press coverage.

She’ll make no mention of the multiple Grammy, Stellar and Dove awards she has garnered over the years, let alone the several gold- and platinum-certified albums she has scored –– not even those she nabbed with brother BeBe as part of the hit-making duo BeBe & CeCe Winans.  She won’t tell you she’s graced the covers of high-profile publications such as Essence, Jet, CCM, and Today’s Christian Woman, among countless others, or that she has made her rounds in the talk show circuit, making appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning, America, Oprah, Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, and more. And radio hits? Forget about it.  When all is said and done, CeCe’s heart lies someplace else. Thy Kingdom Come (PureSprings Gospel), her eighth solo album, is a reflection of where her heart resides: in the very inner court of the heavenly realms, where Christ Himself is enthroned.

Perhaps the least known among the Queens Of Gospel is Samantha Gooden. She is a Christian contemporary artist who lives in Barbados.

Samantha has been running from the power of her voice for a long time.

Although she was awarded several national awards and a coveted music scholarship to the Edna Manley School Of Performing Arts, while attending high school in Jamaica, she chose to pursue an academic scholarship for her college degree. While on campus, the British-born songstress became known as “the girl with the golden voice”, but she kept on running.

For as long as she can remember she has been singing in church, giving her life to Jesus after a moving encounter at 13 years old. From there she grew into a well known psalmist and worship leader at her home church in Portmore, Jamaica, and initiated children’s ministry within the inner city communities that the church served. During this time she recorded her first few tracks on a sampler project called His Mercy Endureth.

The opportunity to live in and travel to various Caribbean islands has taken her voice from Jamaica to the shores of islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, the Cayman Islands, St Lucia and Barbados, and she has shared the stage with Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary and many others.

As a creative writer, she has written, directed, presented and produced various Caribbean radio and TV productions.

Between her medical career and her time as a marketing director she has often shared her gift through ministry in churches and at gospel and jazz shows in the islands, but she would always return to her academic pursuits.

One day death came knocking and Samantha could run no longer.

After two life-changing surgeries she became more determined than ever to devote her voice to the glory
of God. As she turned her heart to God in 2014 she received more songs for her debut album Stronger.

Her heart of worship is exposed in raw melodies that reveal the joy and pain of the Christian journey. The message of the project is as simple as her mission “to connect hearts in worship of our great God so they can experience the highest version of themselves, in spirit and in truth”.

So prepare to be fed with a sumptuous menu of musical goodies this weekend when both concerts begin at 8 p.m.

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