February 24, 2017
By Richard Johnson
INTERMITTENT showers sought to disrupt the final in the Reggae Wednesday series, but gospel music artiste Kevin Downswell was having none of it.
The popular act was just into his set when the threatening downpour made its appearance. As patrons scampered for cover and the technical crew brought in tarpaulins to cover sensitive equipment, a defiant Downswell would not be moved by the elements, bursting into prayer and praise, asking that the rains cease… and it did.
Despite a shortened set — it took time for the audience to resettle — Downswell gave another inspiring set, dropping the favourites that many gathered at Mandela Park wanted to hear. He capped his presentation with the well-known If It’s Not Youand You Make Me Stronger, much to the delight of the audience.
The final in the series observing Reggae Month was dedicated to gospel music and saw a number of exponents taking the stage.
Powerhouse singer Kimola Brown-Lowe brought the house down with her big voice booming through the park. Her original works Lift Him Up, Standing In Your Mercy and It Is Done went over well. Katalys Crew brought their inspirational roots music, including His Grace, which utilises the melody of Bob Marley’s Rat Race, to great effect.
But it was up to the night’s final performers, George Nooks and Stitchie, to warm the hearts of patrons.
Nooks was in his element. Making his way into the audience, he interacted with fans as he delivered from his gospel arsenal:
How Great Thou Art, I Remember Mama, God Is Standing By, and a medley of popular choruses including
Christ So Real To Me, Send Down The Rain, and Someday I’ll Go Where Jesus Is. He had Mandela Park hanging on to every note.
Despite a difference in musical style, Stitchie was just as entertaining. Despite a switch to gospel, he has not lost the fast-talking style that made him popular during the 1980s and even performed Natty Dread and Wear Yuh Size from his secular catalogue. But it was Man A Pastor — his take on the recent incidents involving men of the cloth in incidents of carnal abuse — which was met with rousing approval. He related how to turn down the sexual advances of a female as a minister of religion.
A fair-sized audience witnessed the event. Dub poets Sheldon Shepherd and Latoya Hamilton, as well as the Akwaaba Drummers, also performed.