Come celebrate Jesus delivers
Years after several parish councils, including St James, wanted to keep her outside their borders because of her raunchy and explicit performances, Minister Marion Hall, formerly dancehall artiste Lady Saw, made her debut appearance in western Jamaica as a gospel artiste at Come Celebrate Jamaica on Saturday.
In its sixth year, the BA&D Gospel Productions-staged event showed why it has become a permanent fixture for gospel music lovers in western Jamaica, as hundreds poured into the Montego Bay Convention Centre for some unforgettable performances from Ramone Watson, Anique Morris, the Leharia Singers, Kevin Downswell, international gospel recording artiste Kurt Carr, and Hall.
Hall entered the stage at 8:35 p.m., and had even her biggest cynics on their feet from the start of her 40-minute set to the finish. Gone is the fouled-mouthed, scantily clad performer who seemingly always courts controversy, and now a renewed, anointed performer, declaring Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Minister Hall had the packed convention centre in worship mode throughout her performance, delivering every word with the same gusto that saw her established as one of the greatest dancehall acts ever.
"Dem tink wi did bad when wi inna dancehall? Now wi bad fi Jesus," she declared, as she belted out songs from her debut gospel album, When God Speaks. Among the songs she delivered were My Arms Are Open Wide, Devil Get Out Of My Way, I Had Jesus, Won't Worry, Jesus In The End, Enemy and On Fire For Jesus, before closing out with a crowd favourite, There's a Room in My House.
After such a stellar performance, which had the crowd begging for more, it would only take a master performer in the ever consistent Minister Kevin Downswell and his well rehearsed backing band to take worship to another level.
Going through his repertoire of hits, Downswell, who has performed on all six editions of Come Celebrate Jesus, kept the patrons on their feet, glorifying God and dancing away to his songs that has seen him established as one of the most sought-after gospel acts in the Caribbean and North America.
The organisers pulled off a master stroke with the inclusion of American gospel music composer and performer Kurt Carr, easily the best overseas act of the six years of the annual event. Carr belted a number of his past and current award winning hits including, If I Tell God, God's Got It All in Control, God Great God, For Every Mountain, and Awesome Wonder, while teasing a few new material on a marathon set that ended a memorable experience for many, just as it began, with worship.