Tue | May 28, 2024

Local, int’l acts deliver at well-organised Fun in the Son

Published:Tuesday | April 23, 2024 | 12:08 AMKwela Cole/Gleaner Writer
International gospel artiste Kirk Franklin shows love to the Fun in the Son audience at the National Stadium.
International gospel artiste Kirk Franklin shows love to the Fun in the Son audience at the National Stadium.
Prince Saj poses backstage at Saturday’s Fun in the Son.
Prince Saj poses backstage at Saturday’s Fun in the Son.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport looking on while international gospel artiste Kirk Franklin performs.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport looking on while international gospel artiste Kirk Franklin performs.
International gospel artiste and producer TobyMac delivered an energetic set.
International gospel artiste and producer TobyMac delivered an energetic set.
All smiles and good vibes Tommy Cowan (left), CEO of Glory Music, producers of Fun In The Son and wife, gospel singer Carlene Davis (second right), with (from left) gospel singer Kevin Downswell and reggae-dancehall  artiste Christopher Martin.
All smiles and good vibes Tommy Cowan (left), CEO of Glory Music, producers of Fun In The Son and wife, gospel singer Carlene Davis (second right), with (from left) gospel singer Kevin Downswell and reggae-dancehall artiste Christopher Martin.
Gospel entertainer Kevin Downswell ministering at Fun in the Son, held at the National Stadium.
Gospel entertainer Kevin Downswell ministering at Fun in the Son, held at the National Stadium.
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Fresh off the plane, international gospel artistes TobyMac and Kirk Franklin did not disappoint at the Best Dressed Chicken Fun in the Son gospel concert held on Saturday at the National Stadium. It was hard to keep still during TobyMac’s performance that saw his musicians going through multiple instrument changes between acoustic and electric and keeping up with complicated tempo changes. The international artiste’s background vocalists doubled as professional dancers as they ministered with their voices as well as their bodies, never missing a beat. Music performed live changed to music via TobyMac’s DJ who led the crowds of Fun in the Son into an impromptu gospel rave, mixing secular beats with Christian message music for a truly awesome effect.

The Cornerstone singer shared that he was excited to perform in Jamaica and had a special message for the Jamaican people. “It’s an honour to be here. My family is from here, my wife is from here, so I love the Jamaican people in general. I’ve been coming to Jamaica almost my whole life. It’s my hope and my prayer that the audience tonight will turn their eyes to God, the only one that brings peace and the only one that brings love,” he said.

With all the excitement, there were still quiet moments of testimony. TobyMac had, a few days prior to his performance, lost two of his collaborators in music, fellow singer Mandisa and backup vocalist, dancer and musician, Gabe Patillo. He made sure that their presence was felt and acknowledged during his set. “It was hard performing after that. It was on my mind. They’re very close to me and I just think that I know what they would want. They wouldn’t want us sulking around. They would want us out here celebrating in Jamaica and reminding people of the love of Jesus.”

The return of gospel musician Kirk Franklin to Jamaican soil after a decade was met with excitement and the energy of his fans as they danced to songs such as Stomp and Revolution. Dressed for the weather, Franklin himself could not contain his energy as he moved in time to the music of his accompanying singers and band. He shared testimonies in between his songs but the energy never faltered and the first strains of music playing could not deter the crowds who pre-emptively screamed back the lyrics they knew by heart. It was a sad moment when Franklin declared he only had nine minutes left but he left the audience with one more gift as I Smile washed over the venue.

SOLID EXECUTION

Well executed and absolutely enjoyable, Fun in the Son got its start with a rousing session by DJ Powa and a blessing by the Signature Women Worship Team. The opening acts would make way for Prince Saj, a young gospel deejay, who got his break on the stages of dancehall deejay contest Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall. His inclusion on the line-up is testament to Fun in the Son’s continued commitment to giving rising local artistes within the gospel industry, as well as artistes with alternative sounds, a platform.

He sang many of his hits, high-energy songs with the uplifting message of Christ, such as The Message and Fully Jesus to the excitement of the audience and even had a few younger patrons performing popular choreography to the music. Prince Saj was extremely pleased after leaving the stage. “It was a wonderful performance. It was amazing. I just expected that God would do what God wanted and He did. I’m extremely grateful. I even heard persons singing along to the different songs I was ministering,” he told The Gleaner.

The Overcome artiste added that though he’s a deejay, his music is “strictly gospel”. “Sometimes I don’t [refer to my music] as dancehall or reggae, I just call it strictly gospel because the truth is God gave me a gift to deejay and in Jamaica we talk Patois and it’s just the culture… . In the field I’m in, I’m using the lyrics to communicate with my generation and even the older generations,” he said.

Petra Kaye was up next, delivering the Word through her music in fine style. The recording artiste gave an exhilarating set as she made full use of the stage’s catwalk to interact with the audience as she performed renditions of her signature medleys Sovereign God Medley and Chorus Medley. The pace continued with Jermaine Edwards, who delivered a passion-filled set. A household name in local gospel music, many of his songs were echoed back to him by the crowd who knew every word. Old hits made way for his newest release Protection, a lively song with an important theme. Much to Edward’s surprise, the audience sang along. “It was really awesome. It’s normally nerve-racking to sing a new song but I see the people listening and dancing, so that’s a very, very good thing. I wanted to minister the process of family healing the heart, understanding putting God first and standing out in excellence. That’s what my message was about,”said Edwards.

Veteran gospel singer Carlene Davis followed Edwards in an explosion of orange and blue, a gorgeous vision against her animated backup singers and talented live band. The One Day At A Time singer covered the National Stadium with a medley of Jamaican favourites before jumping into her household hits, the result of a legendary career in music. Speaking with The Gleaner backstage, she spoke of the work that went into the arrangement on stage. “It was a lot of work because I have a lot of songs. We did a lot of pre-rehearsals looking at the arrangements for the songs before we went into four days of rehearsals leading up to tonight,” said Davis, adding that it was worth it. “I believe when it comes to evangelism you have to meet the people at the point of their needs. Life and death is in the power of the songs. When you speak and sing songs that they can join … it’s like an orchestra, that changes the atmosphere and brings it to a higher place of praise.”

Kevin Downswell’s powerful set began with a clip of a sweet moment of him and his youngest daughter singing along to one of his songs. He shared that he was so overcome with emotion that he almost couldn’t make it on stage, describing it as the perfect foundation for a performance that took gruelling rehearsals to perfect. Not wanting to give his fans the same old routine they might be used to, he described the process of arranging his older tracks to sound new and working on choreography befitting his successful slot on stage. “We wanted to pull on older songs and blend it in with new ones to make people think ‘Woah’,” he said. “We were very intentional with the choreography of the background vocals as well. Very intentional. We’re very used to as Jamaicans, the singers staying in one corner. We had three to four rehearsals doing choreography. I even messed up a little! If you want something new and fresh, you have to disturb the thing a little bit,” he said. And that he did.

entertainment@gleanerjm.com