High hopes for Hi-Pro Denbigh fest

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior reporter

Thursday, July 06, 2017

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AS the 21st staging of the Hi-Pro Denbigh Gospel Extravaganza approaches, Creative Director Naomi Cowan believes the event has grown beyond its Christian base.

This year's show is scheduled for August 6 at the Denbigh grounds in Clarendon. It is part of the annual Denbigh Agricultural Show.

“It sure does appeal to non-Christians. I am extremely passionate about creating experiences that are inclusive to people of all backgrounds. I believe at the crux of Christianity is freedom, joy and openness,” Cowan told the Jamaica Observer.“This is why we have chosen the artistes on our line-up: they have all reached international and widespread audiences throughout their careers, which means they know what it means to communicate love to anyone who attends. We're at a place now in our society where everyone needs to experience love — no matter what stage of life they're at.”

Cowan's mother, singer and minister Carlene Davis, is a perennial presence at the 'Extravaganza'. She is again on the card along with Kevin Downswell, DJ Nicholas and Rondell Positive, who have all helped expand gospel's mainstream appeal.

It will be Cowan's first time in charge of promoting the show, which has been handled by her family's Glory Music company since its inception in 1996. Last year it drew an estimated 18,000 patrons.

She is determined to surpass that figure.

“The show has grown tremendously; with last year's event having 18,000 patrons, we can only expect more. However, beyond growing in numbers, we've seen growth in anticipation. Year after year the community's passion and excitement for the event grows,” she said.

Cowan, who kicked off her singing career two years ago, has dubbed next month's show 'Royal Year'. She said in medieval times, British squires would be made knights on their 21st birthday.

The Hi-Pro Denbigh Gospel Extravaganza is sponsored by the Jamaica Broilers Group.

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