Reaching out through music
Huntley Septimus wasn’t interested in a Christian lifestyle in his younger years.
But one night in 1985, while sitting on a wall in his home town in Jamaica, that all changed.
“There was an open-air service happening and I sat and listened to the preacher, but wasn’t sure about this Christian thing,” he said.
“So I lit a spliff and heard a voice speak to me. It said, ‘You are too barefaced’. That’s the word I heard.
“I turned and looked and didn’t see anyone. Then shortly after, I heard God speaking to me directly through the word from the preacher. I told my friends, ‘This is the last night I will live this sinful life anymore.’
“That night by my bedside I prayed and asked God to come into my life.”
Today he preaches through music. The gospel reggae artist, who goes by the stage name Septimus, is amazed by all that God has done.
“I’m an evangelist and minister of the gospel,” he said.
“I have made two albums and won a gospel award in Jamaica and have travelled all over sharing my music.
“God has opened a lot of doors for me. Even today I’m working with Glenn Blakeney’s record label, Bermuda Soul, getting distribution by VP Records and performing all around the island at various school assemblies and events.”
Septimus will next take the stage at Inter-Island Communication’s free annual Christmas concert next Saturday at Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts. The show starts at 7pm.
Other featured artists will include the Richard Allen AME Young Adult Network Praise Team, Bootsie, The Five Keys, Cindy Smith, Toni Robinson and Keith Lee.
“My performances are always bold and radical,” Septimus said. “I like to make people feel happy and give them energy, so that’s what I hope to bring to this show.”
His goal is to raise the level of spiritual consciousness through his songs. War Against The Devil speaks of how people are tempted to do wrong. Ignite is based on Ephesians 6:12 which states: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The song has received air time in Europe and the Caribbean.
“I want people to recognise [what can happen] if we fast, pray and say ‘God, you can tear down the strongholds in our lives’, but the problem is people don’t pray. They just keep on complaining, when all we really have to do is enter the spiritual realm and ask God to intervene on our behalf.”
The lifelong lover and performer of reggae music was hesitant to make the switch to gospel after he moved to Bermuda in 1997.
“When I came here, I noticed a couple of guys were trying to do gospel reggae and someone asked why I didn’t try because it was my culture and I could do it justice,” he said.
“But I didn’t want to do it because the church wasn’t so accepting of the genre. Then one day I just tried it and a lot of young people gravitated towards it, so I decided to do it more and more.
“At the time I was performing alongside Brother Richie all around Bermuda and I started to get a lot of invitations to the schools. I went to lots of school assemblies and ministered to the young people in the mornings and spoke to them and they were really enthused with it, so it turned out to be something great.”
The message is largely the same as what preachers share in the pulpits, but Septumus says he tries to keep his message fresh and unique.
“We can’t use the same tools from decades ago because people and the culture have changed,” he said.
“Sometimes our method can be outdated.
“Younger people want to listen to some hip-hop or reggae because that’s what they like, so with gospel reggae we have a way to reach them with their songs.
“I even see secular guys, who aren’t in the church, listening to my music. It’s the power of God.”
This article was amended on Sunday as the original line-up of artists appearing with Septimus supplied to The Royal Gazette was incorrect.
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