Enchanting music fills Stella Maris auditorium
It was real ‘big people ting’ inside the Stella Maris auditorium on Shortwood Road, on Sunday evening, when some of the island’s finest singers and musicians, along with an emcee/comedian, displayed their absolute mastery in their chosen field, in front of a capacity audience.
Appropriately titled Musical Enchantment, this 18-year-old event has been staged annually in celebration of the birthday of trumpeter and vocalist, Dwight Richards. It was an extremely happy birthday boy who performed early on the programme, but frankly, with so much talent in one space, the organisers probably used ballots to decide the line-up. Bold and confident, Richards interacted easily with the audience and even had them laughing and singing along, karaoke style, as he chose persons at random to belt out lines of songs. Interestingly, this was the same set of people whose polite claps had earlier prompted emcee, Blakka Ellis to ask if they didn’t get the memo that said they could get up and rock, because it wasn’t a theatrical production.
Richards, after delivering songs such as Members Only, You Can Call Me Al, along with Ken Boothe’s Freedom Street and Artibella, even attempted a song-for-song, face-off with Blakka, but this nephew of reggae greats, Alton and Hortense Ellis, would have none of it. While Blakka has plenty of jokes, he doesn’t have a song. And speaking of jokes, Ellis had the audience in stitches, but it was ‘big people ting’, and, as they say, “some things that happen at Dwight show stay at Dwight show”.
Up next was singer, Alicia, a Spanish Town resident who reigns supreme on the cabaret circuit. Garbed in a fire red bodysuit, cinched at the waist with a broad gold belt, and which showed off her voluptuousness, she looked like Super Woman and had a voice to match.
Her vocal virtuosity was on full display as she filled the auditorium with the sound of music. Musician and singer, Everton ‘Pesso’ Pessoa, was soulful. He has had a long association with the Bare Essentials band, and with this wealth of experience, he worked the show like a pro. Pesso teased the ladies, he cajoled and after a slew of R&B favourites, he borrowed gems from Third World’s catalogue, namely Try Jah Love, How Can It Be Forbidden and Sense of Purpose.
One of the surprises of the evening for a few persons inside the venue was Ali McNab, who, for many, is still the face of sports, so they were in awe to know that he actually sings, and very professionally too. Introduced as footballer, coach, sportscaster and brilliant musician, McNab was suave and touched the hearts of all the women and the lovers with selections which included Groovy Situation, Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely, All My Life and All of You. As a special treat, he called on songbird, Minister Carlene Davis, to duet with him on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, a song they covered on Carlene’s album, The Assignment. McNab was generous in his praise of the youngsters in the Fusion band, and even declared himself in the big league to have singer Ifidel Williams, on stage accompanying him.
The other female on the line-up, Gem Myers, needed no introduction. Gem slayed in an elegant, form-fitting blue gown and despite it being obvious that this was ‘her’ crowd, she took nothing for granted. This One Man Woman was the toast of the evening and she set the stage for special guest, the legendary Jimmy Cliff.
Without much fuss, the reggae icon stood directly in front of his home crowd, which, by then, also included the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange, and gave a short but compelling performance. Organiser Dwight Richards, who was only too happy to prove the naysayers wrong concerning their predictions that Dr Cliff would not turn up for the show, also requested that they do a song together. But Jimmy Cliff was already on his way out of the auditorium and couldn’t turn back. Richards, a churchman, reeled off a selection of uptempo choruses and ended the celebration with a rousing rendition of the Holy Ghost Power Moving Just Like A Magnet.
The Jimmy Cliff Foundation has been selected as the charity for this year’s staging of Musical Enchantment.