Thu | Jan 23, 2020

Nikeisha Barnes’ gives mesmerising performance at last Sunday

Published:Tuesday | August 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Barnes riveting performance electrified the audience.
Nikeisha Barnes delivered a well-received hour-long set.
An overview showing the merging of various art forms as Nikeishia Barnes? was the guest performer on the last day of viewing of exhibition Daylight Come... Picturing Dunkley's Jamaica at the National Gallery on Sunday.
Nikeishia Barnes? performing at the National Gallery Sundays Opening.

Sunday's staging of The National Gallery of Jamaica's monthly event, Last Sunday, was a resounding success. Guest performer Nikeisha Barnes was not only a magnet to the large audience, but also treated them to an outstanding performance.

Her performance coincided with the last day for art lovers to enjoy the exhibition - 'Daylight Come ... Picturing Dunkley's Jamaica.'

The exhibition examines the happenings and culture of Jamaica during John Dunkley's life, and acts as an accompaniment to the now-closed, exhibition 'John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night'. Barnes' performance took place surrounded by photos exploring themes such as immigration, tourism and Jamaica's journey into the nationalist era.

Attired in full black and showing signs of maturity since her days as a contestant on Digicel Rising Stars, Barnes was interactive, entertaining and spunky. Each song was preceded by personal stories.

"I grew up with my grandmother, who was a seamstress, and she played songs from the '50s and '60s. My soul is still in that era," was how she prepared the audience for a soulful delivery of Aretha Franklin's Natural Woman, her grandmother's favourite song.

Before her Nina Simone-like rendition of To Love Somebody, she explained, "In doing my homework, I learnt that my next song was written by the Bee Gees." And when she sang Stand by Me, the now warmed-up audience provided back-up.

Her set continued with 'big tunes' from the song list of Dennis Brown. And that was when she got 'mad and crazy'. She stayed in the reggae genre with selections from fellow junglist Bob Marley. Marley's Turn Your Lights Down Low was justly rendered, followed with a through the audience searching for volunteers to 'Ketch the rhythm' to any other Marley's song.

Barnes's original songs were also backed up with entertaining and compelling anecdotes.

"Mi was very much in love and thought I was gonna get married, so I wrote an original song. This song is titled Mi Shalla La La in Love," she announced before sharing it with great aplomb.

But it was the story that preceded the original, Rock of Ages Love, that was the most compelling of the afternoon. The song was written as a thank you to all who believed in her. From her entire community that "backed" her when she was a contestant in 2006, to individuals like Caney (a cane vendor), who has continued supporting her.

This was followed by a request - Love Me. And all too soon, an hour of solid electrifying performance ended with the audience singing and dancing to the affirmative I Will Survive.

"She was amazing." Orville Lawrence, senior curator of the Ocean Boulevard-based gallery, said in summing up Barnes' performance. But he was not surprised, as having seen her performed before he was blown away." "She gives quality performances," he asserted.