Tue | Feb 21, 2017

Smith shines at Hospitality Ja awards

Published:Monday | October 27, 2014 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
Adrian Frater Members of Hah-r-mony Entertainment Group decked out in red, gold and green.
Adrian Frater Members of Hah-r-mony Entertainment Group in vivid costumes at the Hospitality Jamaica 10th Anniversary Awards, held on Saturday at the Montehgo Bay Convention Centre, St James.
Adrian Frater Karen Smith gets close to audience members at Saturday's Hospitality Jamaica 10th Annioversary Awards, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James.
Adrian Frater Master saxophonist David Cunningham pays special attention to one audience member at Saturday's Hospitality Jamaica 10th Anniversary Awards.
Adrian Frater Karen Smith enjoying enthusiastic feedback from the audience at Saturday's Hspitality Jmaaica 10th Aniversary Awards, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James.
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Western Bureau:

On a night when excellence shone like a beacon at the Montego Bay Conference Centre, St James, veteran star Karen Smith was a gem, lighting up The Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica 10th Anniversary Awards with a performance rich in class, quality and charisma.

Smith shared the night's billing with Hah-r-mony Entertainment Group, master saxophonist David Cunningham, and the gifted Infujan Show Band. The evergreen songbird spent most of her performance among the patrons mixing, mingling and joking around as she delivered sweet Jamaican ballads, moving from table to table in the spacious ballroom.

With the backing band clearly in sync with her as their instruments cushioned her vocal offerings, Smith connected with the audience, wrapping her silky smooth voice around songs like I Still Love You, which had the patrons nodding their heads in approval.

Smith's dancing skills

While Smith seemed quite content to hug, smile and embrace patrons as she strolled around the spacious ballroom floor, it was a different matter when she took to the stage. There Smith's dancing skills came to the fore, especially during her classy versions of Everything I Own and the classic Natural Woman.

Before exiting centrestage to a standing ovation, Smith gave another taste of her amazing versatility, all but bringing the house down with a reggae-flavoured rendition of Aretha Franklin's mega-hit, Respect. For an even deeper personalised touch, Smith added smooth deejay style speed rapping to the song.

Saxophonist David Cunningham, a household name on the North Coast hotel circuit, was pleasing as he skilfully mixed reggae, R&B and soul in wind instrument style, his precision and supreme control showing that he was a master at work.

lifted tempo

After initially arresting attention with the Glen Miller classic In The Mood, Cunningham and his saxophone lifted the tempo to dazzling heights as he had the patrons rocking in appreciation to Bob Marley's Is This Love. Cunningham effortlessly followed up with Kenny G's hit Forever In Love.

When Cunningham took a breather it opened the door for Hah-r-mony Entertainment Group, which had earlier opened the awards' performance segment, to make a grand return, infusing pleasing dancehall into the occasion. Its members clad in red, green and gold, Hah-r-mony was particularly sparkling when dancing to Shabba Ranks' Trailer Load.

In their earlier stint Hah-r-mony, whose members came out nattily attired in pink and red, was electrifying, dancing up a storm to series of salsa-flavoured songs. The audience was enthused with the group's energy and their gymnastic-style dance moves.

When Cunningham returned to set the stage for Karen Smith's entry with a rich rendition of Tarrus Riley's She's Royal it was clear that, like the awards which followed, excellence dominated the show.