Children sing gospel 'From the Heart'
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
When the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) National Children's Gospel Song Competition, 'From the Heart of a Child', got under way on Sunday, it was a showcase of not only the talents of the performers and quality of the items, but also the newly rebranded JCDC.
The first sign of the revitalised JCDC became evident when promptly at 6 p.m. (the scheduled starting time), the partially-filled Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre was asked to stand for the National Anthem. The prompt start was commendable but, unfortunately, this punctuality meant that for the first 30 minutes there was constant human traffic as the late arrivals strutted in.
This, however, was no deterrent to the young participants, ranging from ages six to 15, who were divided into six categories and representing schools, churches or simply satisfying their personal desires, from performing at their optimum best.
The children's entrances were colourful, well-timed and effective. They entered upstage centre through a door carved out of a flat panel decorated to look like a church as they sang A Cheerful Heart, In the Valley and My Redeemer Lives.
Beautiful, creative pieces
In the choir categories, Stella Maris Preparatory School, with its creative original piece, Jesus At My Side, placed second to Hagley Park Preparatory School, which had a beautiful rendition of This Little Light in the six- to 10-year-old section. Herbert Morrison Technical High School, with its rendition of Glory Hallelujah to the Risen, placed first ahead of Titchfield High School in the 11 to15-year-old category.
The Singing Jewels of Cornaldi Avenue Primary School was first and Bright Beginnings Educational Centre was second in the six- to 10-year-old Ensemble Category, whereas in the Intermediate Category Boys of Valour came second behind Papine High School.
In the highly competitive Junior Solo Category (six-10), Jamielle Gillman from Manchester sang a heartfelt Stand Still to take first place from Alex Anderson, who placed second. The intermediates were not to be outdone, and when the results were announced neither Lenroy Lewin's colourful costume nor his catchy, jazzy twist on Just a Closer Walk With God was any match for Malika James' powerful rendition of Encourage Yourself. So strong was James' performance that she received the evening's only standing ovation.
But there were other occasions for the members of the audience to get on their feet. When masters of ceremonies Markland Edwards and eight-year-old Jahzan McLaughlin 'took them to church' with the singing of Hallelujah, Praise Ye The Lord and God is Good, the audience responded accordingly. Obviously not missing the slapstick of past events, Edwards' statement of "and the church say amen" was met with the appropriate response.
Special guest artiste Martin's Heritage was just as engaging in its presentation of songs such as Lift Jesus Higher and I Want to be More Than an Ordinary Servant, but could have performed shorter.
When The Gleaner spoke to JCDC executive director, Grace Silvera, architect of the newly rebranded JCDC, about the changes, she said, "lots more is promised". She also promised to "bring newness, high entertainment value and to capture the imagination of young people".
Other recipients of prizes in the JCDC National Children's Gospel Song Competition were three teachers for their original pieces. They were Kamesha Dawkins of Boule-vard Baptist Church, Andrea Whyte of Stella Maris Prep and Danielle Bennett of Iona High School.