By Tyrone Reid, Staff Reporter
The 'Prodigal Son' in a passionate performance at his album launch on Friday. - Michael Sloley
ONE OF gospel music's hottest commodities, Prodigal Son, took a significant step at the Church on The Rock on Friday. Calvin Curtis Whilby's debut album, Radikal Prodigal, was launched in a display of emotion and spirituality.
It was a night of thanksgiving, praise, worship and excellent performances from the scheduled artistes. The church was almost full to capacity and the congregation witnessed passionate displays from members of the panel. A teary-eyed Danny Browne was overcome with joy and obviously full of gratitude to God.
The album launch's press conference also served as a discussion board to facilitate arguments supporting reggae gospel. "It's a new day in Church on the Rock, and the best is yet to come... many others like Prodigal Son and Moses are to come," said Andrew Lawrence, who was partly responsible for Prodigal's return to the Lord.
The Prodigal Son, who was a Christian since he was five years old, strayed from the Lord when he was 15, but is now proclaiming his return in a big way.
At 8:30 p.m. the man of the hour, the 'Radikal Prodigal', was received with a standing ovation - the first of many on the night. "First and foremost, thank you Jesus, just give me a minute to praise," Prodigal said, as he went into shouts of praise to the King. He also gave out awards to a few people whom he tagged as instrumental in the development of his career and Christian life. The awardees included Pastor David Keane, Ms. Sheryl Crooks, Pastor Rawle Tyson and Mrs. Whilby (his wife).
As Mr. Whilby testified, he spoke about his previous life in Rema. He refused to refer to the inner city communities as garrisons, but instead labelled them "tropical paradises". In expressing his sincere gratitude Prodigal said: "Tonight I am standing here and it isn't because of any good that I have done, but because of the grace of the Lord."
The question segment, which facilitated enquiries from media personnel as well as members of the audience, began at 8:50 p.m. Danny Browne took this opportunity to ask for sponsorship of the street service ministries.
At 9:15 p.m. the almost packed house was given what they seemed to have been waiting for - some wholesome and spiritual entertainment. This section was kicked off by the Family Church on the Rock's Praise and Worship Team. They led the church into a ten-minute praise and worship segment with a medley of lively songs and choruses. They then slowed down the pace with some more reverent and soul-searching gospel. At 9:35 Andre Lawrence blessed the place with a prayer, after which the stage was graced by the Family Church on the Rock Dancers, who displayed well-choreographed moves to Prodigal Son's I Wish. Immedi-ately after an equally great performance was given by the Praise Academy Dancers. They danced to another of Prodigal's tunes, Woe, and received a standing ovation.
The moment the audience was waiting for came at 9:45 p.m. The lights were turned off, people were screamed in anticipation and the Prodigal went on stage to the introductory track on his album. The 'Son' could do no wrong he had the crowd eating out of the palms of his hands as he preached reggae righteousness from the podium.
"Church on the Rock unnu ready fi get mad fi God?" asked the Prodigal. He went into performing tracks from the album, which were well received by the congregation. Some of the members gathered at the front of the stage, clinging to his every word.
Prodigal delivered tunes such as Praise the Lord, The Anthem, Prodigal Yuh Turn Christian featuring Lady Junie, I've Got Everything featuring 15-year-old singing sensation Chevaughn Clayton and the popular I Wish amongst others.
At 10:30 p.m. he exited the stage but was called for an encore by the still hungry souls who chanted "we want more". After finishing his performance, Prodigal Son made an alter call.
The event was brought to a fitting close with Pastor Rawle Tyson praying for Prodigal Son, who knelt before the pastor as he sat in his wheelchair.