Wednesday, 23 December 2015

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR: For Kevin Downswell, 2015 delivered memorable moments to last a lifetime

HIGHLIGHT THIS: The gospel star and author with members of his band in Grand Cayman. Below, at the 2013 YVAs (left), and sharing the stage with Omari.

If you ask Kevin Downswell to describe the past 12 months, his adjective of choice is “indescribable.” While we would be more inclined to describe his 2015 as “triumphant” and “ovation-worthy”, we know exactly what he means. While a number of his industry peers connected with their fans on the usual level, Downswell was simply off the chain, captivating us (and widening his fanbase) with a powerful music ministry that came via electrifying concert performances, an artistry that’s as classy as it is compelling, and a genuineness that makes him intriguingly relatable and his offerings all the more appealing.

Never was this more obvious than at the recent KSAC Christmas Tree Lighting concert at the St. William Grant Park, where the gospel star, fashionably on-point as always, transformed the show into a raise-the-roof praise party, bringing the crowd to its feet and into the stratosphere. Kevin seems to accomplish this feat everywhere he goes these days, whether he’s headlining a sold-out event like Keesing Live or sharing the spotlight with other hitmakers (sacred and secular) at shows across the island.

This crowd-pleaser, blessed with a ferocious tenor, appeals across the board. And his fans can’t get enough. You couldn’t go anywhere this year and not hear hits like “Stronger”, “If It’s Not You” or the Papa San collabo “Calling Me” (to name a few of his popular hits), which ruled the airwaves and playlists at a wide range of events.

As the demand for his music skyrockets, Kevin Downswell Ministries is experiencing phenomenal growth. “The impact locally has obviously increased, but we also did a lot of travelling this year, visiting different places across the region. So we ended up achieving a whole lot,” Downswell tells us over the phone a few days after the KSAC concert. His creative juices, he says, went into overdrive this year, spawning numerous tracks that will be featured on his upcoming album (his third solo effort), due out in 2016.

Unsurprisingly, releasing the motivational tome The Search Continues was another high point for this multitalented 34-year-old. “I’m already working on the next book,” he confesses, without missing a beat. “The launch was truly special, and because this one was so warmly received, it challenged me to keep at it.”

There’s no telling what 2016 will bring for King Kevin, but with new frontiers to conquer, a solid management team taking care of business (wife Marsha and manager Wendell are towers of strength), and a public yearning for more, he has no choice but to deliver. He has a few surprises in store, especially when it comes to creative partnerships. “Let’s keep that a secret for now, but I’m working on some good collaborations for the album,” he hints, laughing. “Putting together the album is the main focus right now.” 

For this singer-songwriter, who will grace the stage at the well-anticipated January 2nd renewal of Shaggy & Friends at Jamaica House, nothing compares to putting your sweet success in proper perspective. “When you’re a child, you dream of reaching a certain point in life and making a difference,” he reflects. “But being at this stage has well surpassed what I always dreamed. I am truly grateful.”

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