Fun in the Son spreads with J'can roots - Texas staging to be added to Bronx event
Football is one of the games regularly played at National Heroes Park, Kingston, which hosted Fun in the Son in 2016 and 2018. Despite the sport played on open fields being the same, the venue's name for another Fun in the Son event held recently - the soccer field at the Evander Childs Educational Centre - indicates a difference between societies where the free Christian gospel event is held. And the event's names - Jamaica Fun in the Son and Fun in the Son Bronx - state the locations outright, the 2018 stagings held on July 14 and August 4, respectively.
There is a connection between the Jamaican and US Fun in the Son events which goes beyond Carlene Davis performing at both this year, as Glory Music's Tommy Cowan tells The Gleaner how the seed for the Bronx event - now in its sixth consecutive year - was sown in the heat of the first Fun in the Son. It was held in 2002, and there was a Pastor Gladstone Johnson, originally from Jamaica but now living in the US, who was literally passing the hat for donations. "When we had the first Fun in the Son, he was there walking around with a hat. We were trying to take up collection because we had all these expenses," Cowan said. Johnson proposed hosting the event in the US to his home church and now the New Testament Temple Church of God is critical to Fun in the Son Bronx.
The 2018 event, themed 'Peace and Love with Unity in the Community', had elements in common with Jamaica Fun in the Son 2018. Among them were the inclusion of games, a health village and preaching of the word (done by Bishop Jackie McCullough in Bronx) - fused with music performances from the big stage. Jamaicans DJ Nicholas, Glacia Robinson and Davis were three of those performers, along with Eddie James, The Red Letters and Emrand Henry. Having Jamaican performers is a part of maintaining the event's identity, which Cowan said is a requirement for Fun in the Son being held outside the country of its birth.
"Glory Music has the rights to the event," he said, explaining that partner organisations can then stage Fun in the Son under an arrangement. "At the same time, we want to have the clear understanding that Fun in the Son is a Jamaican product," Cowan said. And he said that the organisers of Fun in the Son Bronx, the Good Neighbours organisation, is being an important one, "like to know each year they have someone from the family in Jamaica. We want to keep that image, that it is an event from Jamaica."
With Fun in the Son Bronx well established, next on the US Fun in the Son agenda is "Texas for sure", where a church is slated to open in Arlington September. "Once that church is opened we will be looking at next year," Cowan said. "We are looking to go to Florida. We want to have this event replicated in several states in the US. We want them to have the experience of Fun in the Son in Jamaica. I don't think they have anything like it."
In the Caribbean, Fun in the Son has been held in Haiti, the last time being in 2015. Like the Jamaican event, it was held every two years.