Tuesday, 3 January 2017

FIRST FEST 2017: Stellar performances – and a marriage proposal – highlight well-attended gospel show

ONE MAN BAND: He works the stage with the hyperkinetic energy of ten people, but even the most tireless performers need a breather. International headliner Deitrick Haddon took a moment to get up-close with the fans during his crowd-pleasing hour-long set. During a performance laced with fancy footwork and tunes that had the large crowd in a sing-along mode, the LA-by-way-of-Detroit native showed why he’s one of the most in-demand gospel ambassadors working today. 

STAGE PRESENCE: The First Fest organizers couldn’t have selected a “stronger” closing act than Kevin Downswell, who brought the curtains down on the show with a bravura performance buoyed by his signature blend of praise-and-worship brio, show-stopping vocals and empowering messages. 

TWO OF A KIND: DJ Nicholas pulled double duty during Tuesday’s show. Moments after delivering a remarkably high-energy solo performance, he was called on to join Haddon near the end of his set, bringing back memories of their joint appearance at BET’s Celebration of Gospel last March. 

HE PUT A RING ON IT! When emcee Markland ‘Action’ Edwards called his namesake Cristal on stage midway Tuesday’s concert, she didn’t know what to expect. But the 25-year-old St. Ann native got the most wonderful surprise when boyfriend of three-and-a-half years Oshane McHugh joined her onstage, got down on one knee and, with hundreds of concertgoers looking on, asked her to be his bride. As expected, the crowd burst into cheers and applause. Beside herself with glee, Cristal said yes. McHugh, 25, is an on-the-rise gospel singer from Spanish Town, who graced the stage earlier, with Cristal supporting him on background vocals. 

> SOLID START: First Fest kicks off 2017 with a jubilant gospel showcase

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