Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Sterling Gospel Music Awards set for ‘significant’ seventh staging

Voting closes at midnight

Published:Saturday | September 23, 2023 | 12:07 AMJada Powell/Gleaner Writer
Brian Cuff (left) and Basillia Barnaby-Cuff.
Brian Cuff (left) and Basillia Barnaby-Cuff.

The Sterling Gospel Music Awards (SGMA) is leaning into the number seven as they celebrate their seventh anniversary. In keeping with the significance of the number in the Bible (seven represents completion), this year’s ceremony will be held on October 7, and start at 7 p.m.

Speaking at the media launch for the event, held on Thursday at the R Hotel, Basillia Barnaby-Cuff, co-founder and director of the SGMA, recalled the initial difficulty faced with staging the event when the idea was first conceptualised.

“When we tried to get Sterling off the ground initially, it was four years prior to actually having the awards, but because I have always had the vision for a national gospel awards show for Jamaica, I have always been trying,” said Barnaby-Cuff, adding that corporate support was also difficult to attain.

“I remember the first staging we couldn’t get corporate support, so my husband and I decided that wherever we were going to get the money from we needed to have the first one because once that’s done we can use it as an example and as a benchmark for awards in gospel. Reflecting seven years later, sometimes I can’t believe that we’ve reached so far and it’s very important to us that sponsors without even having to ask they continue to commit and support the awards so this year feels extra special,” she said.

She said the seventh staging of the event is of great significance because of the difficulties they’ve overcome over the years, including the COVID-19 pandemic. “After the first three years and especially after those years of COVID, we knew that no matter what we could overcome [and] we could execute with excellence. Sterling 7 means so much to us because we no longer worry about where the sponsorship is coming from because God has proven himself over and over again. So we lean on the promise that He gave us this vision and will see it to fruition,” said Barnaby-Cuff.

Even in the midst of the launch and celebrations, at the basement of the R Hotel, the dynamic husband and wife duo of Brian Cuff and Barnaby-Cuff, along with supporters, were yet again tested in their faith as the nation was rocked by a 5.0 earthquake. Nonetheless they stood firm, saying a word of prayer and remaining steadfast.

For Cuff, co-founder of the Sterling Gospel Music Awards, he is proud that they recognise more than artistes. “We are more about having an impact in the world as the SGMA goes beyond just recognising musical achievements. It also pays tribute to the individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make gospel music thrive. This includes songwriters, producers, sound engineers, and gospel radio hosts, among others. We understand that it takes a team effort to produce soul-stirring gospel music, so we ensure that these unsung heroes receive the recognition they truly deserve,” said Cuff.

While not keen to expand just yet, the couple look forward to moving the product into other territories in the future.

“Persons regionally and internally have asked for Sterling to be brought into different countries, but we did not want to do it just yet until we cemented Sterling [in] Jamaica as a Jamaican product and so in a few years to come, we will be expanding to other countries,” said Barnaby-Cuff.

The efforts of the duo were applauded by Marc ‘DJ Marc’ Smith, one of the nominees for the event. “It is a great honour to be nominated as DJ of the Year and be appreciated for the work that you have done. It really made me reflect on my career so far and made me realise that people are actually seeing what you are doing and even though we are not doing it for awards, just to be appreciated is heart-warming,” said DJ Marc.

Voting for the Sterling Gospel Music Award closes at midnight.