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Gospel Explosion set to ignite souls

Saturday, April 15, 2017

AMERICAN singer Shirley Caesar is among several acts billed for the inaugural Gospel Explosion concert scheduled for Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew on Sunday, April 23.

Organiser Samantha Gardner-Whyte is encouraging patrons to come out and be blessed, while contributing towards a worthy cause.

"I want people to come out and hear some delightful and spiritually uplifting songs... it will be a great evening of praises. Proceeds from the event will be used to assist homeless children and help them to continue their education. I want to foster a few of them," she told the Jamaica Observer.

In addition to Caesar, Gospel Explosion has George Nooks, Joan Flemming, George Gordon, God Artiste, Evangelist Grant, and Psalmist Amory in its line-up.

Gardner-Whyte, who performs as Evangelist Samantha Gardner-Whyte, is also billed.

Dubbed the First Lady of Gospel, Caesar, 78, has a career spanning six decades. She has participated in more than 16 compilations and three gospel musicals, Mama I Want to Sing, Sing: Mama 2 and Born to Sing: Mama 3. She has 11 Grammy Awards and, in February, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy.

Gardner-Whyte said this is the first show she has organised, but her passion is what drives her.

"It’s a huge challenge. I’m doing this by myself and it’s more expensive than I thought, but I’m still open to sponsorship," she said.

The organiser hails from Crawle River in Clarendon but migrated to the United States in 2010.

She said while attending Crawle River Baptist Church, her talent was discovered by the congregants.

"My mother was a deaconess at the church and people there kept encouraging me to do a ministry (with my music), and the rest is history," she said.

At 18, she recorded her first single Miracle. Two years ago, she released her most ambitious project to date: a self-produced 15-track album titled Breakthrough.

"I write songs from my experiences... I get to sing about solid messages that people can relate to."

She said despite living in the States, her heart never left Jamaica.

Tickets for Gospel Explosion can be purchased at York Pharmacy in Half-Way-Tree, Total gas station on Brunswick Avenue in Spanish Town, and Tolan Total gas station (formerly Tiger Mart) in May Pen.

– Brian Bonitto