Song born from illness tops gospel contest
With four of six sectional prizes already in Marsha Jarrett's tally for the night, announcing her winner of the 2016 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Gospel Song Competition on Sunday was a formality. The prizes she won before being announced overall winner with her entry Send up the Praise were Best Arrangement, Most Online Votes, Best Musicianship, and Best Performance.
Second and third places seemed more of a toss-up as Felicia Morrison-Williams and the duo Vitalyte split the other two sectional prizes, the Spiritual Praise Award and Best Lyrics, (for Banking In Jesus) respectively. But when the dust settled at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Hope Road, Morrison-Williams was placed second with Can You Reach Me, while Sherlon Russell was third with Jesus Lives in Me.
An overjoyed Jarrett believes her success resulted from a combination of reasons. "One, because of God. You know when He inspires you, you put everything in it. And also my family and those who support my ministry, generally, like those who just heard my song and it ministered to them, and when they speak about what the song does for them, it motivates you and it pushes you to do your best," Jarrett told The Gleaner.
The St Hilda's High graduate said her winning entry resulted from 10 years of ill health. "It affected everything I did. I had to just take a step back and to get several opinions. And then one night I just got really radical in my spirit," Jarrett said, She questioned God and the words of the song came to her as the answer.
For classically trained vocalist Morrison-Williams, the competition was "awesome. We have learned so much, grown so much, and we became a family." She started out in the contest with a Jamaican musical form but was not comfortable with it. So she was advised to perform in her preferred genre and subsequently, was rewarded.
Sunday's show was the culmination of months of preparation and extensive exposure of the competitors through a new component, a reality television series. "Each year, we try to be more creative and to improve on the product. It chronicled the journey of the top 10 finalists and it gives a background to what they go through, from rehearsals in the studio, the training and development that goes into the final show, as the public only sees the glitz and glamour at the end." explained Stephen Davidson, JCDC's director of marketing and public relations.
Glitz and glamour
It was indeed glitz and glamour, with a cool breeze adding to the atmosphere of the outdoor venue. The event was highly competitive, tightly executed, flowed flawlessly, and was witnessed by an audience that grew over time.
The predominantly youthful- looking contestants performed twice, a song from a Jamaican gospel artiste (it is not clear why Amazing Grace made the cut) and their original entry. A few faltered in their first performance but not in the second as each act gave their all. Among the performers were were Omar Douglas (Stop It) and Kazak Ministry (Live and Declare).
The other finalists were Derona Nunes-Davis, Triciana Simpson, Jessan Nembhard, and Orville Sutherland.
Also on the programme was the Rev Glen Graham, who provided his share of entertainment and powerful ministry through songs such as Six Men Bring You Back and his closing selection Send Me Surplus Grace. Laud Dance Ministry gave a clinical performance, the One A-Chord and Evolu-tian Band gave the relevant support to the finalists, and the MC was Markland 'Action' Edwards.