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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • A quartet from the parish of Manchester is among the 10 finalists battling for the first prize in the 2014 Jamaica Gospel Song Competition.
  • They will be vying for over $400,000 in cash and prizes when the competition is organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).
  • The foursome called ‘Servants’ is the only group to have made it to the finals and is competing for the second time, having entered the competition in 2011 with the entry ‘Home at Last’.

A quartet from the parish of Manchester is among the 10 finalists battling for the first prize in the 2014 Jamaica Gospel Song Competition.

They will be vying for over $400,000 in cash and prizes when the competition, organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), unfolds on Sunday, July 27 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston.

The foursome called ‘Servants’ is the only group to have made it to the finals and is competing for the second time, having entered the competition in 2011 with the entry ‘Home at Last’.

Lead singer, Rohan Walcott, said the group, with their entry, ‘Free At Last’ is elated to have reached the finals.

“We are hoping to make it to the top three this time around. It is a good feeling representing your parish. Persons are going out for you and supporting you on the road shows, and expecting good things from you,” he said.

‘Servants’ was formed in 2004 when the members met at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU). Since then, the group has been performing island-wide and ministering through music.

Despite their successes, Mr. Walcott said the members have often found it difficult to meet for practice sessions because of their varying work schedules. He admitted that rehearsals are sometimes held during worship times or on Saturday evenings because “that is the only time that we have.”

Asked if the group had a good chance of winning, Mr. Walcott said, “All ten contestants have a fairly good chance of becoming the winner, but I would love to win this year. I am hoping for that, but all the best to everybody else,” he said.

Another finalist, Anishca Sinclair, who entered the competition with ‘The Word of God’ is happy to be among the shortlisted group.

“It is a good feeling representing God…it is an amazing feeling and I am privileged that God is using me to minister,” she told JIS News.

Miss Sinclair, who is a member of the Praise and Worship Team at the Church on the Rock in St. Andrew, said she began singing at age four. At age 15, she was ministering in both word and song and was later appointed by her church as an evangelist.

She attended the Sandra Brooks Music School and shortly after began singing with the RB Gospel Group.

Miss Sinclair said that she was about to produce an album when she was advised by a friend to enter the Gospel competition.

The first-time entrant lauded the development workshops organised by the JCDC, which she said has provided her with vital information about the music industry and tips on how to care for her voice.

“I learnt how to take care of my vocals and that is important in the Ministry. It’s been good and I am really excited about everything,” she said, adding that she would encourage anyone to participate in the competition.

“If you have a message and you’re about the Kingdom, this is the best place,” she added.

Some of the topics discussed at the training sessions were: ‘My Voice’, ‘My Instrument’, ‘My Image,’ ‘Intellectual Property Rights’, and ‘Introduction to the Music Industry.

The other finalists are Adrian Dell with his entry ‘Blessed and Highly Favoured’; Orville Sutherland, with ‘Cool Shade’;  Stacy Ann Brooks-Kristos, with ‘Give me Jesus’; Travis Gordon, with ‘Roll Back the Dark Clouds’; Aneisha Walker, with ‘Unchanging Love’; Chavan Nelson, with ‘Turn Around’; Jerome Welch, with ‘Rise up and Stand’; and Keneisha Smith, with ‘Prayer Warrior’.

The JCDC recently launched a 10-track gospel album, comprising songs by the finalists.

Subject Specialist for Gospel and Church Services, at the JCDC, Leighton Jones, said the album was part of the JCDC’s promotional strategy to expose the artistes “to the real world of the music industry.”

“We are not just expecting that they come and perform on stage but we want them to get a feel of working in the studios with producers, so it is part of the developmental process act as well,” he said.

He said the JCDC is encouraging more songwriters and performers to enter the competition in order to benefit, through training, from experts in the gospel music industry.

Mr. Jones said the finalists are currently rehearsing for performance opportunities planned for July, under the guidance of coach, Ewan Simpson.

Additionally, he said the finalists will be participating in a project titled, “One Voice One Heart”. It is an outreach programme, which will allow them to share time and donations with children in child care facilities.

“We will have devotions, play games with them, pray and teach them Bible stories and just have a wonderful day,” he explained, adding that the visits are being coordinated by the JCDC parish offices in collaboration with the Child Development Agency (CDA).

Mr. Jones commended the sponsors, including the panel of adjudicators and musical experts for partnering with the JCDC. He praised the contribution by Almond Productions Limited, which he said provided some $800,000 towards producing the album.

Chief Executive Officer of Almond Productions, Jon Williams, said his outfit was happy to assist with the challenges which the JCDC expressed, noting that he felt it was important to protect the “respectability” of the competition.

“We at Almond have invested a lot of resources to keep it going, so it was a no-brainer for us, so when we heard we said that we have to do something. And that’s what we did,” he said.

Mr. Williams said it was also a privilege working with the group. “Their songs are relevant and has all the attributes that we need in these times to keep us moving and to keep faith alive,” he added.