Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Sterling Gospel Music Awards exceeds expectations

Chozenn, Petra-Kaye Linton named male and female gospel artistes of the year

Published:Monday | October 10, 2022 | 12:08 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Charmaine Wilkinson (left), wife of radio broadcaster Nigel Wilkinson, is invited on stage as her husband is presented with the Sterling Award for Excellence by Basillia Barnaby-Cuff.
Charmaine Wilkinson (left), wife of radio broadcaster Nigel Wilkinson, is invited on stage as her husband is presented with the Sterling Award for Excellence by Basillia Barnaby-Cuff.
Long-time gospel supporter and Love 101 FM broadcaster, Nigel Wilkinson, is flanked by Sterling Gospel Music Awards founder Basillia Barnaby-Cuff (left) and co-host Nadine Blair as he is presented with the Sterling Award for Excellence.
Long-time gospel supporter and Love 101 FM broadcaster, Nigel Wilkinson, is flanked by Sterling Gospel Music Awards founder Basillia Barnaby-Cuff (left) and co-host Nadine Blair as he is presented with the Sterling Award for Excellence.
 Barbara ‘Saxgurl Barb’ Witter does a two-step as she performs at Sterling Gospel Music Awards.
Barbara ‘Saxgurl Barb’ Witter does a two-step as she performs at Sterling Gospel Music Awards.
Levy’s Heritage synchronise every lyric, every note and every move as they minister musically to all the guests present inside The Ambassadors for the Sterling Gospel Music Awards.
Levy’s Heritage synchronise every lyric, every note and every move as they minister musically to all the guests present inside The Ambassadors for the Sterling Gospel Music Awards.
Petra-Kaye Linton receives her Sterling Gospel Music Award for Female Artiste of the Year from Ian ‘Ity’ Ellis.
Petra-Kaye Linton receives her Sterling Gospel Music Award for Female Artiste of the Year from Ian ‘Ity’ Ellis.
From left: Kevin Downswell and Pastor Courtney Morrison accept awards on behalf of gospel singer Chozenn, presented by Sara-Ann Edwards-Miller.
From left: Kevin Downswell and Pastor Courtney Morrison accept awards on behalf of gospel singer Chozenn, presented by Sara-Ann Edwards-Miller.
Basil Barnaby runs to the side of his daughter, founder of the Sterling Gospel Music Awards Basillia Barnaby-Cuff, as she breaks down during her opening speech for the event, held at The Ambassadors last Saturday.
Basil Barnaby runs to the side of his daughter, founder of the Sterling Gospel Music Awards Basillia Barnaby-Cuff, as she breaks down during her opening speech for the event, held at The Ambassadors last Saturday.
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Gospel dancehall artiste Chozenn was a top winner at the 2022 Sterling Gospel Music Awards’ (SGMA) diamond celebration, which was presented on Saturday at The Ambassadors, located on Hagley Park Road in Kingston.

He won two awards, including Male Artiste of the Year and Local Hit of the Year with Jesus Rock, for which Rohan Rankine copped the award for Local Hit Producer of the Year. Pastor Courtney Morrison and gospel star Kevin Downswell collected the awards on behalf of Chozenn, who has been overseas since tying the knot last summer.

GRATEFUL AND HUMBLED

Speaking to The Gleaner, after receiving news of his awards, Chozenn said that he was grateful and humbled to be named Artiste of the Year, but also knowing that the awards show was supported the way he expects it should at each staging.

“The joy I’m feeling is inexplicable, I never thought the day would come [when] I’d see my mentor, brother and friend Kevin Downswell collecting an award on my behalf,” said Chozenn. “It’s the most humbling experience of my life. [I’m] here celebrating my son’s 16th birthday as well, I’m just giving God all the glory and honour. To all the other nominees, salute to you …we are one and represent our Lord and Saviour; no competition over here in the kingdom. And to my Sterling Awards family, bless you all, heart of love.”

Petra-Kaye Linton, the 2021 Breakout Artiste of the Year, humbly accepted the Female Artiste of the Year award. She shared her gratitude from the moment her name was announced to her walking onto the stage.

Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, which officially endorsed the event, in his opening remarks, described SGMA as a “different kind of gospel event”. He shared that he made a last-minute wardrobe change to fit in.

The music awards show, dubbed the ‘Caribbean’s premier awards ceremony for the gospel community’, returned for its sixth staging with a Grammy-style production which exceeded all expectations – from the red-carpet segment, where the first 100 guests to arrive received special packages to the personalities selected to host and present awards. Also noteworthy was the line-up of performers, most of whom brought the audience to their feet to sing praises.

To coincide with Jamaica’s 60th diamond jubilee celebrations, the SGMA’s focus was on excellence over the past 60 years, where several veterans and outstanding professionals were honoured for their contributions to the Jamaican gospel music industry. The ceremony was co-hosted by Nadine Blair and Nigel Wilkinson – the latter whom received the biggest surprise – having been honoured with the Sterling Award for Excellence while carrying out his presenter duties.

Wilkinson, who has been broadcasting for nearly four decades, 29 of which he has been on air on Love 101 FM for the first time, was left speechless. There were 10 additional awardees for excellence in the area of musicianship. The recipients were Patrick Kitson, Othneil Lewis, Paul Barclay, Delroy ‘Dellie’ Thomas, Jon Williams, Rohan Reid, Sam Wisdom, Dr Noel Willis, Karl Gibson and Rhon Matthison. The presentations were done by Restaurants of Jamaica Brand Manager Andrei Roper. Having experienced life-changing events a few years ago, Barclay, band leader and founder of Katalys Crew, known for his extensive skills in production, mixing and mastering, said that the awards show had exceeded expectations and that he could not have been more honoured, even just to be present as a member in the audience.

Other top winners for the evening included DJ Nicholas, awarded Album of the Year for Abnormal Decibels and Collab of the Year for his collaboration with Sherwin Gardner titled Mek Ah Way. Ava-Gay Blair Black also receiving two awards, one for Most Rated Radio Programme for Gospel Light and Gospel Personality of the Year. Mykal Malachi won EP of the Year for Rise to Greatness, Prince Saj won Breakout Sensation of the Year, Orville Sutherland scored the top prize of Video of the Year for Nothing But The Blood, and Samuel Medas took top honours as Caribbean Artiste of the Year. Meanwhile, Maverick City was given International Artiste of the Year. Though the Event DJ of the Year award was missing during the virtual staging, it returned and was awarded to DJ Rebirth.

TEARS OF JOY

After a two-year break from the physical settings, overwhelmed by the support, founder and organiser of the gospel music awards Basillia Barnaby-Cuff could not contain her tears of joy. “I am on top of the world and so grateful to God that we managed to pull this off,” Barnaby-Cuff said in her interview following the evening’s programme.

“Imagine, we had planned another virtual staging for July, but at the last minute, pushed it back to October so as to have a physical event. I believe, like me, the team and all our guests were excited to get back into the same space with everybody to worship and celebrate the hard work and ministries of each of our awardees,” she added.

Two of the more memorable performances were Barbara Witter, more popularly known as Saxgurl Barb, making bodies sway and move to her compelling and mellow blows, and that of Levy’s Heritage (who are third-time SGMA winners of Group of the Year), later followed by their father, gospel veteran Lubert Levy. The three siblings never fell out of sync as they harmonised on stage. The show also featured performances by Leonel Teape, Orville Sutherland, Rian Davis, Petra-Kaye Linton, and Rhoda Isabella.

The evening ended before the clock struck midnight, but not before musical minister Kevin Downswell could return to the stage to offer his blessings and to request that everyone join hands in a powerful prayer.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com