Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
The Praise Awards red carpet gala event at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last Wednesday was snubbed by its lifetime-achievement awardee the Reverend Dr Shirley Caesar.
The iconic gospel singer, who in addition to the Reverend Dr V.T. Williams, was scheduled to receive a lifetime-achievement award from Jamaica Praise Fest organisers, was nowhere to be found when it was time to collect her award.
Eager fans of her music and attendees, some of whom had paid as much as $3500 to share in the moment, simply had to be content with an apology for her absence.
The Reverend V.T. Williams was, however, present to accept his award.
"She had another commitment that resulted in her not being at the event," president of Jamaica Praise Fest Lorna Chambers revealed.
"We admire the work that she has done over the years and the impact on so many lives, which underscores the reason we decided to give her this award. Shirley and V.T. Williams have done a lot throughout the years through music and philanthropy and we celebrate their contributions with this award," she continued.
Some 27 persons, including groups received awards in 10 different categories as the organisers highlighted the work of persons within the Christian faith who have done well in their respective ministries.
This is the first year of the Praise Award. The organisers normally host a two-day gospel concert at Dump-Up Beach in Montego Bay. This year's staging ran from April 18-19.
"This is our first annual Praise Award ceremony and we wanted to recognise some of the persons who continue to have a positive impact on the lives of many and who have made significant contributions to the Christian movement.
"Religion is a part of the fabric of who we are as a people and we celebrated the year of jubilee. This award section is also celebrating Jamaica 50 and those who have made a difference," Reverend Chambers added.
Jamaica Praise Fest, which has seen the likes of Donnie McClurkin, had to be postponed last year following the passage of Hurricane Sandy that affected Jamaica and the Tri-State Area in the United States of America.
This setback did not dampen the spirit of the organisers who rescheduled the event for April of this year, which was headlined by Caesar.