Mon | Oct 21, 2019

King of Gospel crown for Lester Lewis - Artiste says he’s shunned in Jamaica

Published:Monday | September 23, 2019 | 12:18 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Lester Lewis and Singing Rose.
Lester Lewis and Singing Rose.

For over 45 years, Lester Lewis and the Singing Rose Ministry have been ministering through gospel music. One of Lewis’ songs, Jesus Is The Winner Man, has even been covered by international gospel artiste Ron Kenoly, but for the husband-and-wife group, they are still without honour in their own country.

Lewis told The Gleaner that he doesn’t feel appreciated in Jamaica, as most of the gospel events being promoted sideline foundation gospel artistes such as himself, Glen Graham, Bunny Anderson and others.

“Foundation gospel acts are not treated with respect. We never get a call. When we are doing interviews we mention young artistes, but there is no link between the young artistes and young,” he said. He added, “Some of these gospel shows that feature hot reggae gospel artiste, you won’t be invited to be on it.”

Lewis, while acknowledging that reggae gospel has its place, said many artistes have strayed from what real gospel music is about. “It’s about turning the focus to God, igniting them to worship,” he said.

However, Lewis has something to smile about as, come October, his work will be recognised at the Caribbean Gospel Legends Music awards (CGLM), which will be held at the Hilton Gardens Hotel in Windsor, Connecticut, USA. Among others slated to be honoured are Gifton Smith, Shirley Willis and Grace Thrillers. Event promoter Delroy Lingo, who has worked with several foundation artistes over the years, said Lester Lewis will be crowned as the new king of Jamaica Gospel Reggae. Commenting on the inspiration to crown Lewis king of the genre, Lingo said in 1994, Claudelle Clarke and the late Otis Wright were crowned king and queen of Jamaican gospel music.

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“It’s been several years since Otis Wright passed away, leaving the kingship available. We started the CGLM awards last year and the highlight was dubbing the gospel queen, Claudelle Clarke, the First Lady of Jamaican gospel music and giving her the living legend award,” he said.

Lingo said Lester Lewis is the perfect person for the award as he has done more for gospel than anyone else.

“He is the most decorated gospel artiste in Jamaica. We are also honouring over 14 gospel legends and community giants,” Lingo informed about the white-and-gold carpet, invitation-only, affair.

Among Lewis’ popular songs are Every Time I Read My Bible, Jesus Is the Winna Man, Sons of God Arise and Ting Pon Mi.

It’s been a while since Lewis and Singing Rose have graced the Jamaican stage, but the duo said they are kept busy performing in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Africa. Lewis, in commenting on the honour that will be bestowed on him, said it feels good to be recognised for the work he has been putting in over the years.