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The mission hit home for Micah Stampley - Headlines gospel concert at Ranny Williams Centre

Published:Sunday | July 7, 2019 | 12:19 AMYasmine Peru - Gleaner Writer
Gospel singer Micah Stampley
Gospel singer Micah Stampley

US-based singer Micah Stampley has been blessed with a multi-octave vocal range, meaning that, through some amazing means, it spans from bass through to first soprano. It is said that his voice has often been compared to that of Grammy award-winner Donnie McClurkin, and he has the stamina to hold notes for lengths of time without wavering in pitch or tone.

In 2005, Stampley became the second male gospel artiste to have a high debut on the Billboard’s chart when his first album, The Songbook of Micah, debuted at number three. Billboard magazine placed him on its Top 10 Gospel Music Artistes list and AOL Black Voices included him on its roster of Top 11 Gospel Geniuses.

Undoubtedly, his star is in the ascendancy, but there is another layer to the story of Micah Stampley, which is far removed from the pomp and the worldly praise. Currently in Jamaica to perform at this evening’s charity concert, Mission Possible, being staged by the Regent Street Seventh-day Adventist Church, Stampley revealed that his decision to take up this offer was simply because “the mission hit home for me”. Like the Mission Possible team, whose main purpose is the rescue of souls through practical means, Stampley has a goal to touch lives in a positive manner.

Stampley grew up in a rough community where gang violence and drugs were not unfamiliar, and he has witnessed all the negatives associated with these ills. “There were five brothers of us in my family,” he told The Sunday Gleaner, “but only two of us are alive today.” And, even that revelation had its downside. His only living brother spent the last 20 years locked away in prison. “He was released in the latter part of 2018. And I saw him in December when he came to visit me and my wife.”

Stampley saw the lifestyle that his brothers were caught up in, and it would have been only too easy for him to have succumbed to a similar fate, but something held him back.

“My older brothers were drug dealers, but God had his hands on me. He would not let me self-destruct,” he stated.

GOD’S BLUEPRINT

He speaks of the interesting dynamic in his life, which involved not only the vices, but also a strong church life. “We were brought up in a Christian home,” he explained, adding that his parents became pastors when he was 12. A young Micah was quite active in the singing ministry in his church and he also had a deep involvement in sports. “I was a track and field sprinter and I was aiming for the Olympics, but God tore up the blueprint that I had for my own life,” he reflected. “He (God) does that sometimes,” Stampley added.

Carved in the new blueprint was a meeting with TD Jakes who, having heard Stampley sing, invited him to The Potter’s House in 2004 and offered him a recording contract. The rest, as they say, is history. And, there is also another interesting part of Stampley’s history – he is an African prince. The story may sound like a fable, but it is real. Stampley was adopted by His Royal Majesty Drolor Bosso Adamtey I, King of the Se (formerly Shai) kingdom of Ghana, West Africa, in 2008. Reports are that the two men met when Stampley was asked to be music minister over a luncheon in Riverside, California. The king, a father of two girls, was profoundly moved and decided that Micah was the son he had been praying for. Prince Micah and his wife, Heidi, hope to one day build a school of the performing arts in Se Kingdom.

Stampley told The Sunday Gleaner that Mission Possible gives him the opportunity to speak about his journey and to encourage husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and all who are struggling. “The journey has been long, but I rejoice especially when I see the growth and development of young people. When I see them absorb and years later see how they’ve grown, it is a blessing,” he said.

KEEP GOD FIRST

Stampley recounted a story of a Nigerian man who could not pay all his fees for law school and he and his wife were able to assist. “Two years ago, he was elected to the Nigerian Supreme Court,” he said with pride.

Stampley’s message to young people who are confused is, “Go in the opposite direction. That will hopefully safeguard them from becoming a product of their environment. Pursue education with all your heart. Keep God first in all your plans and he will open doors that no man can close.”

At this evening’s concert at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on Hope Road, he will be performing the well-known songs from his repertoire, as well as some new music. “One in particular is very special. I didn’t have this invite in hand when I wrote the song, and I’m very excited to see the response of Jamaicans to it,” he disclosed.

Other performers on Mission Possible are Kevin Downswell, Carey Sayles, Rhoda Isabella, Rian Davis, Radikal Weapons, Laud Dance Ministry, Norman Smith and Levy’s Heritage.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com