Thursday, 18 February 2016

GOSPEL SPOTLIGHT: Meet the top 10 contestants in this year’s Jamaica Gospel Song Competition

THE MELODY MAKERS: Members of the group Kazak Ministry giving their all for a spot among the finalists, all gathered on stage (below).

The 10 finalists who will vie for top honours in the 2016 Jamaica Gospel Song Competition this summer have been chosen. Whittled down from 35 impressive semi-finalists, the top 10 were selected following a sing-off at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre (Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre) on Ash Wednesday, February 10.

The terrific ten are as follows:

Derona Davis (Clarendon) – “Glory From This”
Omar Douglas (St. Thomas) – “Stop It”
Kazak Ministry (St. Ann) – “Live and Declare”
Marsha Jarrett (St. Ann) – “Send Up the Praise”
Jessan Nembhard (Kingston & St. Andrew) – “Thank You”
Sherlon Russell (St. Catherine) – “Jesus Lives In Me”
Triciana Simpson (Kingston & St. Andrew) – “When You Call”
Orville Sutherland (Clarendon) – “Silver and Gold”
Vitalyte (Manchester) – “Banking in Jesus”
Filicia Williams (Kingston & St. Andrew) – “Can You Reach Me”

Now that the final cut has been made, the terrific ten will now turn their attention to preparing for the journey to the grand finale, taking place this summer. According to organizers, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), voice and industry-based workshops are being planned for the contestants. A live in-studio recording of the 2016 compilation album is also in the works, and the finalists are scheduled to give performances and participate in outreach activities across the island. All the highlights will be captured for a reality TV series that will air during the run-up to the grand finale.

Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the JCDC, Stephen Davidson, points out that, as in years past, the task of settling on a top 10 proved a tough job. “This year’s semi-finalists each brought something extra to the competition in their own unique way. It was hard for the judges to select the best ten. Almost everyone was a crowd favourite,” he says. “But [this competition] facilitates growth in the music industry and continues to provide opportunities both locally and internationally for a lot of persons who have entered.”

> 2015’s big winner Diamara Neil-Walker continues to impress on the local jazz and blues scene, making her most recent appearance at the Jamaica Pegasus’ Jazz in the Gardens series.

>> DID YOU KNOW: The Jamaica Gospel Song Competition was first held in 1987?

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