Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
Where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present. These words must have been the inspiration behind the heartfelt performance given by Carlene Davis.
She was one of several Jamaican gospel artistes who ministered in song on Friday at the well-attended and lively Independence Jamaica Praise Concert.
The concert was the third in a series organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) in collaboration with the Jamaica 50 Secretariat.
The Golden Jubilee-event was held at Independence Park.
The gospel celebration began with a one-hour praise and worship session. During the period, the audience was at the mercy of DJ Marshall Redwood and his laptop. With some chit-chat and groups of dancers taking over the stage at intervals, the DJ and his music box had the early arrivals screaming and dancing.
Subsequently, when the service began with the playing of the National Anthem, it was a welcome break for the congregation to reflect. But not for long.
Laud Dance Troupe would break up the sombre moment with passionate ministry. Declaration, the piece they moved the audience with, was choreographed to the song This Is Just the Beginning.
Kimola Brown, a finalist in the JCDC 2012 Gospel Song Competition, continued to praise Him, delivering Extraordinary God in powerful fashion.
But alas, most of her peers did not live up to that standard.
That is, except for the 2012 winners, Levy's Heritage, who had the church once again singing praises, with More Blessing Again and their winning entry, One Touch.
On a programme dominated by singing, it was a welcome break to have another dance. It came from Vessels of Worship who put forward Sacred Offering.
The dance ushered in some of Jamaica's pioneer gospel artistes: Royal Routes, Pastor Glen Graham, The Love Singers and Jon Williams.
Williams, whose ministering preceded the last of the three dances, was accompanied by three harmony singers. In giving praise with his violin, he had the congregation swaying to Shackles and My God is Sweet.
But it was Graham who fully engaged the now large congregation in the most sustainable and energetic praise.
The St Bess minister began his sermon with the song Oh If I Miss Heaven. He followed up with Friend, the creatively written Six Men Bringing Me Back and ended with When I Feel the Blood.
After the Praise Academy of Dance's engaging interpretation of the song You Alone it was time for the Jamaican contemporary gospel artistes to lend their voices in praise.
Sister Pat's powerful entrance with Warning was followed by a strong The Lord is My Shepherd and Massa God.
The final segment of the praise concert was designated to the contemporary gospel artistes. Noreta Lewis, Kerron Ennis, Lubert Levy, Judith Gayle, Kevin Downswell, Prodigal Son and Davis all gave praiseworthy performances.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Prodigal Son took the stage. He opted to give an abbreviated sermon with a medley of his songs. And at the end of his performance the shrinking congregation shrunk to just a handful.
Davis was not daunted by the many unoccupied chairs. Instead, she came out singing and giving praise, and the small gathering responded. In that small gathering was Nevina. She thought the concert was good, although she came specifically to hear the ministry of Davis and Gayle. She also admitted that she enjoyed all the performers.
The programme also included a rather creative opening from the three MCs Tony Young, Markland Edwards and Nadine Blair. There was also an acknowledgement throughout of pioneers of Jamaica's gospel .