Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
From a highly competitive field of powerful and passionate singers, the adjudicators at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Gospel Song 2012 judged the talented Levy's Heritage the winner.
One Touch, the title of the group's song, is a mento-sounding ballad.
Mirriam Hibbert was awarded the second place with her song Prayer Away, and Ancient Priest was third with I Declare and Decree. From the reactions of the large turnout at the National Arena on Sunday, the judges seemed to have got it right.
In a creatively decorated setting that included large, widescreen television monitors placed at the back, the finalists held church.
Guest performers Jerome 'Jahlil' Smith and Kevin Downswell, as well as MCs Nadine Blair and Markland Edwards, were excellent.
The 10 finalists, Terri Johnson-McLean, Donnetten Barnett-Thomas, Shavine 'Chronicle' Jones, Kevin Waite, Shekinah 'Da Bishop'Ade Gold, Nickette Morgan, and Kimola Brown, along with the top three, began their musical ministry with a heartfelt opening number.
Then they returned individually to perform songs from previous competitions.
Though still fired up in the Lord, they were a showcase of control and passion.
Their selections ranged from Lester Lewis and Singing Rose's 1988 winning song Every Time I Read My Bible to By Faith, Rohan Clarke's 2008 winning entry.
In their third appearance, the 10 performed their entry pieces. Each performed with dynamism, assurance, and power. After a lengthy deliberation, the top three were announced and then presented with their awards.
In addition to being awarded the top three slots, all won sectional prizes. Hibbert copped the award for best lyrics and the Spirit of Praise award. Ancient Priest won the prize for best performer, and Levy's Heritage received the JCDC trophy for best arranged song.
Levy's Heritage spoke with The Gleaner some time later.
The trio comprises two brothers, Ovando and Oneil, and the youngest of the three and the only girl, Oshin. The two younger ones took turns in expressing how they felt about their victory.
Oneil said the victory brought with it an awesome feeling, especially in light of the fact that he performed while under the weather.
"But mi bredda and sister dem encourage mi. Dats why mi love mi bredda and sista dem suh, yuh nuh! And I just feel good and ah seh I just going ask God for 'One Touch'. And ah get more than one touch, and sure the people get the touch too! Amen!" said Oneil.
Oshin shared her brother's sentiments, but also pointed out how hard it was to achieve the success the group has achieved.
"Even though we are young, we put in the hard work. We get up at five o' clock every morning (for) prayer and fasting. The rehearsals have been great. But at first, it was not so. At first, it was our bigger brother [Ovando, a third-year student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts] who led the song, and it was harder for us because we do not normally lead. But we pulled through, and we are victorious, and it is wonderful!"
The trio walked away with a 2012 Nissan courtesy of Grace Tropical Rhythms. Oshin and Oneil cannot drive yet, so big brother Ovando and Daddy will be doing the driving. The young Christians also plan to continue their musical ministry.
Kevin Downswell, a former winner, shared what it meant to him to return as a guest performer. He also commented on the performances of the finalists.
"It is an amazing feeling to know that this is one of the platforms that helps to push me to know Jamaica and the world. It's humbling, while it is also a privilege of mine to be back here. I really enjoyed it tonight. It was amazing! The contestants were incredible! I said to myself, 'The judges must have had a warm time in deciding a winner'. It was an amazing experience!"