Sterling Gospel Music Awards a golden affair
Celebrated as a golden affair, the third annual Sterling Gospel Music Awards (SGMA) promised to surpass its reputation by sweetening the deal for the gospel music industry through rewarding not only recording artistes of the genre, but individuals who have contributed to its growth – and that it did.
As the SGMA director, Basillia Barnaby-Cuff, said in her welcome speech, “As the Jamaican saying goes ‘encouragement sweeten labour’, that is what we are doing tonight by letting all contributors know they have a place in the gospel music industry and the music industry on a whole, and we want to stand tall with our message of Jesus Christ and continue to spread it with excellence.”
It was a bold move to leave the home of SGMA in Mandeville Manchester, to host the event in St Andrew at The Knutsford Court Hotel, but last Saturday, the industry was celebrated in fine style and to a full house that included gospel recording artistes, producers, event organisers, the media, and families and friends of nominees.
Among the awardees were Jim Radical for The Higher Calling as EP of the Year; Ava-Gay Blair for Emcee Extraordinaire of the Year; Fun in the Son, for Event of the Year; Light It Up by Saiku, featuring Prodigal Son, for Video of the Year is The Wall by Christopher Gayle and Dwayne ‘Dweeno’ Mighty, received Collab of the Year, and one of the top achievers for the night , Rhoda Isabella, walked away with the awards for Breakout Artiste and Female Artiste of the Year. Perennial favourites, Rondell Positive, took home the award for Male Artiste of the Year, and Prodigal Son received Album of the Year Award for Pure Gold.
CELEBRATING THE MUSIC
Despite her late arrival, Isabella came prepared to bring the house down with a catalogue of music that resulted in persons forming a spiritual conga line inside the Blue Mountain Suite at the hotel venue. The Church Medley singer also gave the guests an earful of My Philosophy is Love – a reggae-gospel song that she said should be on her next album.
Another female to grace the SGMA stage was New York-based gospel artiste Kadidia Edwards, a fairly new voice in gospel music. She told The Gleaner, “The awards definitely uncovered a diverse collection of artistes whose music I am going to download when I return home.”
She added, “Being fresh in the music industry, overseas I realise it is very competitive, but with Jamaica it appears that everyone has each other’s back, especially for a young artiste that is also not from here. I would say the people here are also more open-minded and welcoming.”
Other gospel acts to share their talent in celebrating the music and the ministry were Oshane Mais, Ryan Mark and Kevin Heath.
All three delivered powerful performances that surprisingly outshone the evening’s headliner, Lt Stitchie, whose golden garb did a better job of lighting up the room than his set.
Special honour was bestowed upon gospel greats who have made significant contributions to the genre. Among them were Shirley Willis, Sandra Brooks, Carlene Davis, Joan Flemmings, Grace Thrillers, Martin’s Heritage, Papa San, as well as Lt Stitchie. One of the biggest awards of the evening – the Sterling Award for Excellence – was handed to Tommy Cowan.
Cowan graciously accepted the award, making certain that he did not leave without a few words of wisdom. He said, “Dr Myles Munroe once asked me, ‘What is your vision?’, it was at that moment that I learnt what it meant. The most powerful things that can happen to an individual when you have vision – eyes that look are common, and eyes that see are rare, sometimes we look but we don’t see.”
The gospel minister and industry impresario graciously accepted the award and urged the new generation of gospel musicians and aspiring professionals to create a vision and follow it through for the greater good of the genre and the message.