Dalton Harris, OMI, George Nooks for ‘Musical Conversation’ - Virtual concert aims to give back, entertain
In a pre-COVID-19 era, Digicel Rising Stars finalist Jodian Pantry would by now be putting the final touches to her annual New Year’s Day concert staged in Clarendon, ‘Gospel Tenacity’. The event won’t see the light of day on January 1, 2021, but Pantry is undaunted and refuses to buckle under the pressure caused by the pandemic. Instead, she has opted to go the virtual route, with a concert titled ‘Musical Conversation’, to be streamed on Christmas Day and again on December 26. And, as usual, she has the support of her wide circle of friends in the music industry.
For this concert, Pantry has assembled an interesting mix of entertainers, including an aggregation of former Digicel Rising Stars (DRS) competitors. Among them are Rising Stars and ‘X-Factor’ winner Dalton Harris; Sherlon Russel, 2019 DRS winner; Jody-Kay James, 2015 DRS winner; Nickeisha Barnes, DRS finalist; OMI, Jamila Falak, Sheldon Shepherd of No-Maddz, George Nooks and 12-year-old Maylyn Dillon. Also advertised is another DRS finalist, Lenya Wilks, who now resides in Canada, but sadly, she was unable to record her performance owing to tightened COVID-19 restrictions in that country.
“Lenya will be sending an apology message because her entire area in Canada is on shutdown, inclusive of studios. She would have gone into a studio to record her set, but she doesn’t have access because of what is happening in her neck of the woods,” Pantry said.
She told The Gleaner that it was relatively easy to get a commitment from the artistes to perform at this free event because of their long-standing friendships and their many shared memories. She noted that this is the kind of love and unity that is needed to combat the ravages of the havoc-causing COVID-19 virus.
“Lenya Wilks and I were in the same batch of Digicel Rising Stars [in] 2007, and Jody Kay and Nickeisha Barnes are my sisters for life. OMI and I are from Clarendon. We have known each other before Cheerleader (OMI’s international hit) and he really supports me in my efforts of being great in society. We are both proud of each other based on our humble beginnings. George Nooks is like a big brother to me, and I am one of his biggest supporters. I believe in him and his gift of singing,” she said.
Dalton Harris, whose last performance in Jamaica was at Reggae Sumfest in 2019, shares a special relationship with Pantry. She recalled that it was he who found her during his time on Digicel Rising Stars and asked for her help. She shared, “We would spend a couple hours at Uncle Mikey’s studio (producer Mikey Bennett) in Vineyard Town, and we would also do some singing and dancing inside the hotel gym at Knutsford Court. I would take some time off whenever he would call upon me to assist with his journey in whatever small way I could,” she explained. Harris, who is based in England, has already recorded a portion of his performance video, despite having serious challenges with lockdown issues in the United Kingdom.
AN Emotional TASK
The secular-turned-gospel artiste said that putting together the concert was quite an emotional task. “December is known for its festivities, and usually we look forward to watchnight services, Grand Market, the waterfront experience for the fireworks, and so much more. This year we celebrate on the inside, and although doing this event makes me feel really good, it also makes me very emotional,” Pantry said.
She added, “Usually, when I do events the support would be greater, but because of the strain COVID has put on individuals and business, things are just not the same anymore. That makes me emotional, because everybody just wants their livelihood to be intact.”
She lamented the fact that there are some artistes and musicians who have not performed at even one event since March. “The artistes for this event also have been negatively impacted by the COVID novelty, and so it was easy for them to hold my hands for this initiative.
“This is very heart-wrecking for us as entertainers, because the performing arts world and music industry is ours. This is how we butter our bread, and it just wasn’t that for 2020.”
But the Christian entertainer is still counting her blessings. “I hardly did anything, except for corporate, but I am still grateful. To God be the glory, I am still living up and I’m not giving up. I have the support of my husband always, whenever I am trying to do something worthwhile, something that can impact. And that is exactly what I continue to do and put myself out there as the girl who cares, who loves her fans, her supporters. I am here for them all through music. Because as you know, music heals,” Pantry said.
The pre-recorded event, which will be premiered virtually on Christmas Day, will also be aired on local television stations later in the week.
Musical Conversations is powered by Richmond Estate, which is actually the title sponsor, Television Jamaica, Sagicor, World Brands Services, RETV, Howards Boutique, Ocus Pokus nail salon, Extreme Designs and Mint Media.
“Our main purpose in coming together is to comfort the hearts of the Jamaican people. This show was conceptualised to bring entertainment into the homes of the Jamaica populace and those abroad virtually, also most importantly to give back,” Pantry said.
The organisers, through the Jodian Pantry Foundation, will make a presentation of tablets to a group of already-identified students.