‘Come taste and see God’s goodness’ - Gospel Song contest winner sends powerful message
Joanna Walker, the 2019 Jamaica Gospel Song competition winner, is no stranger to competitions. She has entered a number of song competitions over the years, but this is the first time she has entered the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) organised event.
“I have always wanted such a forum to propel my music career, however, you can go around the world to search for success, but once you turn to God, and you ask for His direction, He is going to set you on the right path,” said Walker, whose entry, Taste and See, won this year’s competition.
A resident of Montego Bay, St James, Walker worships at St Paul’s United Church. She is also the owner of a band, Keys in Trouble, and performs on the North Coast where she sings jazz songs. Her entry was inspired by her backsliding journey.
“I was out there trying to find myself in the world, and after getting lost, I realised that the best place for me to be is in the Church and to find my way back to God and picking up from where I left Him, cause He didn’t go anywhere,” she said. “The inspiration for the song came from the Holy Spirit. He showed me Psalm 34 and as I read it and reflected on my experiences, the song came to me.”
A past winner of Encore (2010), a talent competition hosted by Sandals Resorts, and a top five contestant in the Open Mic UK online talent contest (2014), Walker said that copping the JCDC title was a feat that she longed to achieve for her ministry.
“Compared to other competitions, I was nervous about this one because I cared so much. I cared about the outcome, and I knew I wasn’t doing this just for myself,” she started.
“I have several ministries that God has placed me in, and I wanted to win for those ministries. I have an album I am working on, and I wanted to win for that purpose, too. I wanted to win for my family and friends, and I wanted to win something in the name of Christ, which makes this different from other competitions I’ve entered.”
Walker won ahead of Darien Callum and Ricardo Williams for their entry, Never Leave My Side, and third-place finisher Daron Mitchell, with Already Loved. She was adjudged best performer Mitchel won for best musicianship, and the duo of Callum and Williams got the prize for best lyrics. The award for best arrangement went to Le-schae Grant for her entry No One Like You Lord. Curtis Rhoden, who entered with You’re All I Need, was awarded the prize for most popular on social media, and Lorenzo Rowe, with his entry God We APraise, received the Spirit of Praise award.
The event was held on Sunday at the National Arena. The venue was creatively transformed into a church setting, created through the use of a medium-height stage, stained-glass-decorated flats boasting a cross at the top of each. The ambience was further intensified by a full house and great performances from the 10 finalists who performed twice. Evon Wynter, Kashan McKenzie, Aaron Miller, and Oral Small completed the list of finalists.
There were guest performances from the 2018 winner, Daynea Deacon-Jones, and 2004 winner Lubert Levy.