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'Praise for Charity' shouts for help

Published:Monday | October 10, 2011 | 10:00 AM
Dancers perform during Praise for Charity - Just Shout at Emmanuel Apostolic Church on Friday. - Contributed

With an idea borne out of their personal struggles, three students of the Mico University, in Kingston took on the daunting task of raising funds to help tertiary students who are Christians. They chose to achieve their goals trough a gospel concert and they called it Praise for Charity - Just Shout.

But the three, Michael Freckleton, Sekou Hunter and Tarique Cooper, budding producers learned on Friday, which marked the second year of staging the concert, that it would an annual up-hill task; to not only get sponsors onboard but to get a decent size audience for the very spacious Emmanuel Apostolic Church on Slipe Road. They will also have to be more organised and encourage performers to adhere to time.

Praise for Charity - Just Shout got off to a late start. And even then the first item on the programme was deferred to second place as it was not ready. So instead, Sister Sarah emerged from the audience to open the show and took the congregation to old-fashion church. She sang Lord Take Me as I am; delivered a sermon and concluded with an adaptation of Starting All Over Again.

Technical problems

God's Handy Work followed, but not without encountering some technical problems. Dressed in full black dresses the group gave a fair presentation using sign language. Next, Cooper joined forces with four back up vocalists to give a beautiful and vocally clear presentation of Call Me to the Altar.

The group Harmonic Praise, an audience favourite, did not live up to the hype.

Jahlil, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) 2011 gospel finalist, was also on hand to give a spirited performance of Daniel in the Lion's Den and We Magnify the Lord. But for the most part, the shouting in an already magnified space made most of the words inaudible. He was not alone. Errol Grant, Oshane Mchugh Andrew Simon and the two emcees all were guilty of microphone abuse and torturing of eardrums.

The Emanuel Apostolic Speech Choir was a welcome change, though in 1st Corinthian 13, performed in Jamaican style, the first of the group's two selections, the three ladies seated downstage left, had forgotten that the audience should have been a part of the conversation. Nonetheless, the two pieces were delivered with conviction, fervour and clarity; by far they presented one of the best items on the programme.

Fitzroy Blackman, a 2001 JCDC gospel song finalist, closed the show very late in the evening. At the conclusion of an event that created mixed feeling, The Gleaner spoke with Hunter and Cooper.

First attempt

Cooper explained that the first attempt was an unsuccessful fish fry. Last year they staged the first concert. Again while "in terms of ministering it was good," financially it was, "not so good."

Cooper, a third year guidance and counselling major is the only beneficiary from the group of three. Two students of University of Technology will also benefit from the show. And Hunter explained that to be eligible for the scholarship, "the candidates must be a member of a church ministry and maintain good grades at a tertiary institution.

The two admitted that there were challenges in the staging of Praise for Charity-Just Shout, but the diminutive Hunter was not deterred by the low turnout at last Friday's concert.

In fact, he felt good about the affair. He has seen some positive signs. One is that Kingston Bookshop came on board by providing book grants

They have promised to continue with the project and one of the plans to overcome the challenge of low turnout is better promotion and to engage the service of established gospel artistes with the help of corporate Jamaica. However, the group is mindful that acquiring the support of corporate Jamaica provides another challenge.

- MR