EYES ON THE PRIZE: “I want to inspire others and I know the power of song,” reflects the 32-year-old star.
Marsha Jarrett is a go-getter. Though she prides herself on being a Christian artiste whose roots are anchored in the church, this St. Ann native, whose hit single “Send Up the Praise” won this year’s National Gospel Song Competition, is fully focused on spreading her wings and solidifying her place among the new wave of home-bred Jamaican entertainers with a global outlook.
Diversity is the buzzword for this 32-year-old former banker and NCU grad, hence her landing a role in Father HoLung & Friends’ mega-musical Moses (returning to the National Arena this weekend), dabbling in plus-size fashion (she’s repping for the fluffy girls) and gearing up for next year’s staging of the World Championships of the Performing Arts in the US. Best of all, she’s not shy about speaking her mind.
Earlier this week, TALLAWAH chatted with the powerhouse singer about everything from conservative Christians to Lady Saw’s metamorphosis to being true to herself.
TALLAWAH: Would you say winning the National Gospel Song title has been the highlight of your career so far?
Marsha Jarrett: Definitely. It’s been opening a lot of doors for me. I got the opportunity to work with the Father HoLung family in Moses. I play Zipporah, Moses’ wife, and we got to perform it in North Carolina recently, and hopefully we’ll go to Atlanta next year. Also, a lot of people who have wanted to enter the competition now feel empowered to enter. They call me their inspiration. I’ve had persons inbox me on Facebook to tell me how much the song has changed their lives. One lady said it is her fighting song.
TALLAWAH: That triumphant moment was back in the summer. What else has been happening in your world since then?
Marsha Jarrett: I sing at weddings and I still perform in and around St. Ann, which is where I’m from. And recently I decided to enter the World Championships of the Performing Arts. I auditioned in Montego Bay on the second leg of the auditions, in the categories of gospel and R&B. And I will be going up against 40 other countries at the championships in June next year. As a plus-size artiste I’m now involved in promoting plus-size casual wear, so I’m hoping that that will lead to working with some corporate companies representing plus-size fashion.
TALLAWAH: That’s terrific news! How do you define yourself as an artiste?
Marsha Jarrett: I live to inspire people because I understand what it’s like to be depressed. I understand what it’s like to be the underdog. So, with my music and ministry, I want to continue impacting lives.
TALLAWAH: Today’s gospel artistes who embrace secular styles get a lot of flak from conservative Christians in the church. As a relatively new artiste with youthful appeal, what has been your experience where this is concerned?
Marsha Jarrett: Most persons who know me, know me as a praise-and-worship leader, so they have embraced my music and my style; the message of it. But some people are not so sure; you can tell that they are not pleased with certain things, like the vibe of the songs. On the night of the [National Gospel] finals, the outfit that I wore was not the original choice but that’s what I ended up performing in. And when I got back to St. Ann, I heard that some people didn’t like it, and were even talking about it at the hair salon. So image is very important to me, but you can’t please everybody.
TALLAWAH: Indeed. We still see veteran entertainers (Lady Saw and Mr. Vegas most recently) ‘crossing over’ into Christian music and ministry. For you, what does this reawakened trend mean?
Marsha Jarrett: I see it as the GAP – God Answering Prayers, and I am extremely happy that they have made the decision to surrender to the Lord. And we welcome them, just as how we welcomed Junior Tucker and Papa San. What I love most about Lady Saw’s transition is that she’s running with the passion. She even got to perform at the White House this year. How many of us as Christian artistes can say that?
TALLAWAH: When all is said and done, what do you ultimately hope to bring to the Jamaican industry?
Marsha Jarrett: More than just singing. Seasons are very important to us as Christians; the spiritual clock is ticking loudly. We are here to do God’s work, so let’s use the talents that we’ve been given to spread the message.
TALLAWAH: Complete this line, “I sing because…
Marsha Jarrett: I want to inspire others and I know the power of song. I understand my assignment, and I hope to continue growing as an artiste. I want to impact the now generation.