Jamaica Praise Chorale brings band sound to gospel
A new and exciting performing and recording group is about to emerge on the Jamaican gospel musical landscape, comprising some of the island's most talented singers and musicians.
Aptly named Jamaica Praise Chorale (JPC), the dynamic interdenominational group gave a preview of what is to come when they delivered an awesome performance as they launched their outfit at the Holy Cross Carter Hall in Half-Way Tree last Tuesday.
Looking sharp in full black, the group's lively choreography and facial expressions excited the audience as they delivered selections from their repertoire of original songs, and took the message of the gospel to another level, filling the Carter Hall with sweet harmonies and melodies, tinted with a unique Jamaican flavour. The 32-member choir was accompanied by a full band of accomplished musicians who created that big band gospel sound with a horn section which resulted in a call for more and a standing ovation.
The songs performed included Hear Me When I Call, Magnify Your Word and No Other Name, written and produced by the group's principal musical director, Ian E.A. Hird, with Hands of Grace, also written by him and a group member, Olivia Carter.
Guest speaker for the evening, Michael-Sean Harris, lecturer and assistant director at the School of Music at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, in congratulating the JPC group, pointed to the myriad opportunities that exist for musicians and recording artistes to promote their work, due to the emergence of the Internet and vast programmes in cyberspace.
"The days of needing to get a recording contract and have the support of a big record company with big record company dollars are slowly going. Of course, there's nothing wrong with big record companies, especially big record company dollars - if you can get it. If you can't, there are other ways. The Internet has laid it all out before you," said Harris.
He warned, however, that these opportunities needed to be backed up by a sound marketing plan and professional production quality of the recording of music to meet international standards.
"With everyone having the ability to do so much on their laptop nowadays, more and more you find a decline in quality of the work, mostly because they are being done by hobbyists and not professionals. Mixing your song, mastering it … . Even the arrangements can suffer from a less than professional touch. It would be worth your while to spend some money on these areas," Harris suggested.
The chorale is blessed with the support of a highly experienced team of professionals, with extraordinary musician and teacher of music, Ian Hird, at the helm as principal musical director; Ewan Simpson as co-director and Hanief Lallo as assistant musical director. The group's performances will be enhanced with professional choreography, lighting, audio production, as well as stage management.
Since its inception in 2013, the chorale has been spending copious hours in studio perfecting their unique sound and putting the finishing touches to their first EP album, Magnify Our Lord. The album will be available online to local and international audiences as of January 1, 2015.
Also, in keeping with its Christian principles, JPC will be reaching out to two charitable causes between 2014 and 2015 - the Jamaica National Children's Home in Papine, Kingston, caring for orphans and abandoned children, and the SOS Children's Village in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to assist children affected by the Ebola virus.