Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer
Hundreds of patrons turned out for the fifth in the annual presentation Musical Delights, organised by the Lions Club of Kingston, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Sunday.
The four-hour-long concert, featuring nearly 20 singers and instrumentalists, as well as a comedian as an emcee, was undoubtedly an artistic success.
In view of the large turnout, it should also have been a financial success and, therefore, of great benefit to The Sight Foundation Eye Clinic, which is to receive part of the proceeds.
Medical doctor Michael Abrahams, who is nationally known as a comedian and humorous poet, was arguably as entertaining as the many musicians who delighted the audience with American and British pop music, ska, reggae, mento, gospel, and jazz.
Backed by The Bare Essentials Band, the singers were band leader Errol Lee, Richie Canary, Maria Myrie, Everton Pessoa (who also played the trombone), Keisha Patterson, Myrna Hague, Jodian Pantry, Noddie Virtue and Tony Gregory.
Many were attired in traditional Valentine's Day colours and also alluded to the event, then only four days away.
During his set, a cheerful Canary paid tribute to Alton Ellis with songs like Girl, I've Gotta Say, I'm Just A Guy, Better Get Ready and Darling, How I Love You.
Perhaps with Canary's set in mind, emcee Abrahams first introduced the next singer as "a lady who sings like a bird," then changed his description to "wicked".
He was referring to Myrie, who was dressed in full black but was the opposite of mournful as she performed her 15-minute set.
Her songs included I've Got Love on My Mind, I Feel Like Jumping, If You Should Need Me and — as her tribute to Shirley Bassey — the black British singer's 1963 hit I Who Have Nothing.
Pessoa stage entrance
Pessoa started performing long before he reached the stage. Blowing his trombone, he began his walk up to the stage from behind the patrons on the lawn where they were seated and stopped frequently to play softly to individuals, mostly women. He got many laughs because of his artful phrasing of the tune Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
On stage, the former festival competition participant sang How Can It Be Forbidden, When Push Come To Shove and a medley which included Just Don't Want To Be Lonely and What the World Needs Now.
Dressed in red, Patterson showed off her acting background with her dramatic singing of At Last My Love Has Come Along, Lola, Our Day Will Come and a ska version of the Peggy Lee hit Fever. This led into the intermission, during which Lions Club member Desmond Brown officially welcomed the audience.
Hague opened the second half with jazz and, backed by Marjorie Whylie on piano, sang some genre standards in her wonderfully smooth, flexible voice. They were Memories, Our Love is Here to Stay and That's Life.
She also sang a catchy jazz number she was given recently, You Are My Honey.
Looking very formal in his white dinner jacket, bow tie and black pants, Lee was nevertheless very relaxed and humorous as he sang and chatted to the audience during his set.
He called for backup from, first, six members of the audience (to sing Stand By Me and Don't Play It No More), then Patterson (to sing Darling I Love You), and finally Pessoa, to play his trombone while Lee sang a highly entertaining gospel medley ending with Amen.
Pantry, looking pretty in pink, was introduced by the emcee as "a wicked singer", She showed how much she has learnt since doing so well in the Digicel Rising Stars television competition, starting off with an excellent cover of Whitney Houston's mega-hit I Will Always Love You.
She seemed comfortable holding the songs extra-long notes and later showed her vocal flexibility with her bouncy closing medley of What a Bam Bam, Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On, What's My Name and I Feel Like Jumping.
She later returned to sing a romantic duet, I Want to Lay You Down on a Bed of Roses, with fellow Rising Star competitor Virtue.
Before that, Virtue showed his own growth with intense singing of You Sang To Me, The Rebel in Me, and Loving Her Was Easier (in an interesting reggae version) among other songs.
After performing his satiric poem Mi Want Yu, Abrahams introduced the final performer for the night, the evergreen Gregory.
Looking dapper in his dark suit, Gregory gave melodious, mellifluous renditions of more than half a dozen songs, some in a medley. They included Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, I'm Only Human, Don't Play That Song For Me and Save The Last Dance For Me.
Not surprisingly, he ended the set, and the highly enjoyable evening, with a song he said audiences insisted on him singing, My Gypsy Girl.