With just over a month to go, the buzz is heightening around town over this year’s much anticipated Barbados Gospelfest. Of the seven major events, three are free and the rest will cost you.
The fact that you have a choice of either attending one, or all means it’s time to start saving those dollars to get through the doors for the increasingly popular Hymnspeak at St Mary’s Anglican Church on May 26 at 7 p.m.; the Capita Financial Services Laughter & Jazz at Divi Southwinds, St Lawrence, Christ Church, on May 29 at 8 p.m.; the Courts Ultimate Gospel Concert at the Wildey Gymnasium on May 30 at 7 p.m.; and the LIME One Awesome Day at Farley Hill National Park on May 31 from 1 p.m.
However, if money is still too tight, you are free to be part of the Thanksgiving Service that opens the festival on May 24 from 8:30 a.m. at a venue to be announced; the Barbados Public Workers Co-operative Credit Union-sponsored Sunset Concert on May 27 from 5:30 p.m. in Independence Square; and the Joseph Niles Legacy Lecture on May 28 at Queen’s Park Steel Shed from 8 p.m.
There is also another event which would be of particualar interest to artists only. It’s the Signia Artists Development Workshop on May 30 at 9 a.m. at a venue to be announced.
What I can tell you, though, is that if the line-up of headliners scheduled to perform at the musical shows is anything to go by, then patrons attending are in for the time of their lives.
For example, coming in from the United States are Israel and New Breed, and comedian Akintunde; Esther Farinde and Ekklesia from Britain; Positive and Sherwin Gardiner, hailing from Trinidad and Tobago; and Creyol Gospel Parts out of Martinique.
Details of the local acts performing will follow later.
But for those who may not know much –– or anything –– about the overseas artistes, we thought it instructive to help you out with a selected few.
Take Israel Houghton for instance. He is a prolific worship leader, musician, songwriter, producer and recording artist. His music ministry has spanned 22 years and includes work on over 50 albums as an artist or producer, 19 awards and countless accolades.
In 1995 Houghton formed New Breed Ministries that gave way to his debut releases in 1997 –– Whisper It Loud and Way Of The World. Since that time Houghton has released 11 solo and group CDs, and has consistently been a commercial success with Billboard chart toppers New Season, Power Of One, and the current Jesus At The Centre. He achieved gold-selling albums with Alive In South Africa and Live From Another Level.
Esther Farinde is the British singer/songwriter and winner of the 2014 series of Britain’s gospel talent search television show Time2Shine.
Born in Nigeria, but growing up in Britain, she began singing in the choir at church from the tender age of four. Her desire to sing spilled over into her school life and she was soon singing regularly during school assemblies.
During that time, Esther fondly remembers a particular time she was asked by a teacher to give a solo performance at the end of term. She sang Greatest Love Of All by Whitney Houston, and remembers the moment as one of the best and happiest she has ever felt.
She knew there and then, without doubt, that singing was what she was born to do.
Esther’s love of song and performance saw her singing at various events and occasions throughout her time at school, college and university. Her highly acclaimed performances led to her forming a girls’ group whilst still at secondary school.
Esther’s interface with the music industry from those early years was talent-driven. Her efforts were relentless, as she found herself considering approaches to join other pop girl groups (an early champion of her artistry, Cliff Whyte, went on to form and manage the Sugarbabes). Esther auditioned for the X Factor on five occasions and The Voice UK once.
Kreyol Gospel Parts is a group of young people who want to share another vision of life through their faith, their music and songs. They promote the Word with a strong Caribbean accent through a mix of socca, kadans, reggae, compas and traditional gospel.
So they share their faith through their warm music, with the Antilles’ accents. In fact, they have a conviction their Caribbean culture is a unique gift from God.
The group is the fusion in 2011 of two groups: Rema, a musical group created in 1983 (six musicians and three singers) and Chants De Vie, a 17-year-vocal group with 35 choristers –– all originally from Martinique, and under the direction of Richard and Patricia Beaubrun-Diant.
The group currently consists of nine musicians and 31 chorus singers. Apart from the adult team that supervises the group, members are on average 18 years of age.
They express their talents with their vocals, but also through choreography.