The stage is set –– as they say –– for this island’s gospel music arena to be featured at Sunday’s tenth annual Barbados Music, Fashion And Film Awards at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre from 8 p.m. Although only one will win, the names of six gospel artists will be announced as nominees for Gospel Artist Of The Year.
Those eligible candidates who will be anxiously watching the emcee open the envelope and then name one of them the winner are: Shane Forrester, Neesha Woodz, John Yarde, De Warrior, Sirrah and Apache.
Forrester is also a nominee for Album Of The Year for his release Daddy God. He has to compete against the likes of Caribbean Hott Party (CRS Music And Media & Redd Head Records), All-Inclusive (Lil Rick & Platta Recording Studio), Meh Rum (Super Lynks & Gorg Drinks) and Chronicles Of A Soca Junkie (Mistah Dale).
Months ago, the producers of the event posted various categories, asking fans on social media to suggest potential nominees based on criteria. As the messages poured into their inbox, they uploaded candidates, and allowed fans to vote for their choices.
While this process was taking place, the producers said they did extensive research on the activities of the candidates as it pertained to (major) performances, tours, awards and nominations during the year in question, (major) chart information, Press, social media activity, albums released, hit singles on local, regional and international radio, and so on. Over 300 pages of information was gathered, and the massive document was being edited down to a special Barbados Music Awards tenth anniversary publication.
BMA officials hope to publish that document this year, just after the awards, along with a commemorative BMA DVD and documentary.
“That said, we believe this to be the most scientific BMA ever with respect to nominations, and the involvement of the fans was in keeping with the direction of most major global music awards events,” they stated. Up to mid-December, close to 40,000 votes had been cast.
In addition, trophies will return to the awards, following the presentation of plaques and certificates in the two previous editions.
In last week’s publication of High Note, I named my Gospel Artist Of The Year after selecting –– as far as I am concerned –– the two most eligible nominees (from the BMA list) who stand any ghost of a chance of winning. From Neesha Woodz and De Warrior, I have chosen De Warrior as Gospel Artist Of The Year, based on my research and personal knowledge of both singer/songwriters –– and the established criteria. I wait to see what the BMA comes up with.
But I will put my neck on the block that the award will go to either Neesha or De Warrior. If you want to make your own judgement on my judgement, please see the Friday, January 2 High Note edition for the details on how I determined my Gospel Artist Of The Year.
And we now end on a sad note. Tributes have started to come in for the legendary gospel performer, songwriter and choir director whose work graced songs by Michael Jackson and Madonna, and movies such as The Lion King. Andraé Crouch, who performed in Barbados at the Wildey Gymnasium some years ago has died at the age of 72.
Executive producer of Barbados Gospelfest, Adrian Agard, said Crouch’s contribution to gospel music had been phenomenal.
“No one else has written and performed the kind of music that Andraé has done. He has given to the church a tremendous legacy of quality music,” Agard added in a brief comment on the icon’s passing.
For me, Crouch was one of the few gospel artists who helped influence my appreciation for gospel music, and a singer whose musical ministry I admired greatly. Crouch died yesterday afternoon at Northridge Hospital Medical Centre, where he had been admitted on Saturday after suffering a heart attack, said his publicist Brian Mayes.
The Recording Academy, which awarded seven Grammys to Crouch during a career that spanned more than a half-century, said in a statement that he was “a remarkable musician and legendary figure” who was “fiercely devoted to evolving the sound of contemporary, urban gospel music”. Crouch and his twin sister Sandra, also a singer, lived in the Pacoima area of Los Angeles. They were pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in the Los Angeles suburb of San Fernando.
“Today, my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord,” said Pastor Sandra Crouch. “I tried to keep him here, but God loved him best.”
Born in San Francisco, Crouch wrote his first gospel tune at age 14. He wrote dozens of songs, including gospel favourites like The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, My Tribute (To God Be The Glory) and Soon And Very Soon, which was sung at a public memorial to Jackson. Debuting in 1960, Crouch helped pioneer the burgeoning “Jesus Music” movement from the late 1960s and 1970s that started the spread of contemporary Christian music.
”We’ve lost a true pioneer, and he will be missed,” said Jason Crabb, another Grammy-winning gospel singer.
Crouch’s influence also crossed over into in pop music. Elvis Presley performed his song I’ve Got Confidence for a 1972 gospel album, and Paul Simon recorded Jesus Is The Answer for a 1974 live album. Crouch worked with many other stars –– from Diana Ross to Ringo Starr –– and his gospel albums sometimes featured performers from other musical genres.
His 18th solo album The Journey, released in 2011, featured Chaka Khan, Shelia E., Take 6, Kim Burrell and Marvin Winans.
Crouch was one of only a handful of gospel performers to have a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. His choir The Disciples sang background for Madonna’s song Like A Prayer. Crouch helped Michael Jackson arrange the King Of Pop’s 1987 hit song Man In The Mirror. He also arranged music for the 1985 film The Colour Purple — which earned him an Academy Award nomination — and Disney’s The Lion King in 1994.
His success came despite a lifelong struggle with dyslexia. To create, he would make drawings that allowed him to grasp the concept. For the Jackson song, he drew a mirror with an image in it.