Saturday, 19 December 2015

SEEN THE LIGHT: TALLAWAH’s top 5 reggae stars who’ve made the leap to gospel

Lady Saw is a brand new woman now, having accepted the call to become a witness for her Lord. It’s a familiar narrative: the secular-world standout throwing us a curveball via their decision to give up the glitz, the glamour and the cheddar to enjoy the Christian walk for a change – trading their worldly lyrics and rhymes for songs of praise and born-again testimony. The dancehall legend is certainly not the first artiste to make the transition and she won’t be the last. Here are five such hitmakers we’ve long admired for their ‘fearlessness’:

1. PAPA SAN
Local gospel lovers can’ get enough of the hyperkinetic stage presence and super-speedy deejaying skills that have become synonymous with Tyrone Thompson, making his concert performances both hugely entertaining and memorable. What’s more, his diverse repertoire and unique performance style readily recalls his dominant years on the reggae-dancehall scene, which saw him collaborating
with the likes of fellow crowd-pleaser Lady G. Now a general in God’s army, Papa San (left) has gospel hits too numerous to mention, including bring-the-house-down collabos with Kirk Franklin and Kevin Downswell, among others. The story is far from over.

2. CARLENE DAVIS
An iconic Jamaican songbird and consummate professional, Davis has made no secret of the breast cancer ordeal that brought her closer to her Creator. Triumphing over the disease, understandably, put countless songs of praise in her heart, many of which appear on her well-received albums. As we all know by now, Davis’ most recent offering, Dripping Blood, has topped charts locally and overseas, including Billboard’s hard-to-crack reggae chart, reconnecting her with fans everywhere. As she advances from strength to strength, it’s clear that Davis is all about that Glory Music.

3. CHEVELLE FRANKLIN
“She’s the dancehall queen for life; gonna explode like dynamite…” Who can forget those in-your-face lyrics from the Dancehall Queen theme song, performed by the pint-sized dynamo (alongside Beenie Man) delivered with her signature piercing vocals and the charisma to match? But Franklin knew there’s much more to life than recording booty-shaking anthems for the secular world. Her move to the Christian faith caught many of us by surprise (circa the early 2000s) but, upon later hearing tunes like “Joy” and “Now I’ve Got the Flow” from the new journey she’s making, she unreservedly got our blessing.

4. JUDY MOWATT
When the harmonizing I-Threes songstress became Sister Judy (right), reggae aficionados and those who’ve watched her evolution since her Bob Marley days got to see a refreshing new side of her. And we liked what we saw and heard: an entertainment legend fully embracing a new chapter in her life and music career, and giving us the soul-stirring tunes to share in it with her. But though Sister Judy will always strike a chord with us, flying solo, nothing beats the experience of seeing her lace a crowd with tight harmonies alongside her sisters-in-rhyme Marcia Griffiths and Rita Marley. Reunion! Reunion!

5. JUNIOR TUCKER
Hearing the veteran singer perform tracks from his new album, Jesus Famous, leaves absolutely no doubt that Junior Tucker – recording artist, pastor and prayer warrior – is in a good place. He’s come a long way. Making a name for himself crooning heartfelt reggae tunes back in the 90s put him in the company of the finest Jamaican singer-songwriters of his generation. But the family man always knew something was missing from his life. He eventually found it in the Christian church and, more than a decade, later he’s established his own, True Word & Worship, which has brought a powerful ministry with a difference to New Kingston.




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