LIFT EVERY VOICE: Spencer belting out her entry to the delight of the audience; the Titchfield High Choir takes centrestage.
Audia Spencer’s relatives and well-wishers beamed with pride at the front of the stage, as she gave a hair-raising rendition of “Yesterday,” the Mary Mary hit that helped her secure the top prize going at Sunday’s National Children’s Gospel Song Competition – first-place soloist in the age 11-15 category – at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.
The cameras worked overtime and the large crowd cheered as the pint-sized 14-year-old phenom, a resident of Tredegar Park in St. Catherine, showed off her swooping vocals and multi-octave range – an outsize talent combined with a captivating stage presence well beyond her tender years.
You got a lot of that while taking in the over 20 performances at Sunday’s renewal of the annual songfest, as the teen and tween performers displayed the kind of vocal maturity, stagecraft and energy that makes you do a double take.
In a competition split into three categories (choirs, ensembles and soloists), for the 6-10 and 11-15 age groups, everybody brought their cream-of-the-crop chops and can-do spirit to the main stage, but the evening’s most remarkable performances came from the well-groomed contestants of Alpha Primary, Mona Prep, Papine High, Titchfield High and several soloists who knocked our socks off, taking home trophies and other prizes for their remarkable efforts.
This year’s successful staging of the National Children’s Gospel Song Competition continued the rich tradition of the JCDC showcasing the dynamic gifts of our youngsters across the island through the performing arts, while paying glowing testament to the singular and timeless appeal of gospel music to us as Afro-Caribbean people.
The adults never fail to sizzle in the spotlight when it comes to the senior competition (the National Gospel Song Finals), and it’s truly something else to see (and hear) the kids having and enjoying their shining time.
Phenomenal talents like Audia Spencer and St. Aloysius Primary’s Kevin Scott, to name a few, make it abundantly clear that powerful gospel singing will be alive and well in Jamaica for years to come. As for the rest of the 2016 JCDC season, there’s much to look forward to, culminating, of course, in the well-anticipated Independence Day celebrations at the Grand Gala inside the National Stadium to warm us up for the Rio Olympic Games.