An uplifting experience
Hundreds crowded into the Victualling Yard in Dockyard on Thursday for a very exciting and uplifting opening night of the 2011 Bermuda Gospel Festival.
The event was hosted by Bobby Jones whose show, 'Bobby Jones Gospel', airs on The Word Network and BET.
The evening began with a lively performance of 'Mighty God' by the Mount Zion AME Male Voice Choir a fun and energetic piece.
It set the mood for the night despite it being a classic case of trial and error as the audio-visual team sought to get things right for the later acts.
As a result, the choir, which was certainly in excellent form, was unbalanced in comparison with the better-miked performances by later soloists.
Fortunately some of the balance issues were corrected, thanks to the moving around of standing mics, by the time the choir performed its third song, 'Take the Time To Pray'.
It meant the choir could be more easily heard by those in the audience.
In spite of the sound challenges the choir continued to set a standard of top quality music and a fantastic atmosphere as they concluded with 'Holy Righteous', written by musical director Terry Henry, and 'The Lord is Able'.
Bermudian talent continued to prove itself with a moving performance by the praise and worship dance team, Anointed Praise. The New Creation Worship Centre choir brought a recording of the song, 'Breakthrough', to life.
However, the man who really got the night going was local reggae gospel artist DJ Missian. Backed by a team of fantastic vocalists, the Jamaican-born singer totally energised the stage and the audience with his passionate, vibrant vocals. Opening with a traditional church favourite 'I've Got My Mind Made Up' put to an island beat, he soon proved why he is a popular Bermuda artist with songs like 'Bless Me', and 'Tick-a-Tock'. Just as well received was 'Why Do We Cry?', a song on which his wife also performed.
The reverberating energy of his dance would make anyone wonder how he managed to sing at the same time he brought the audience to its feet to join in the excitement.
With such exuberant energy, DJ Missian definitely caught the attention of Dr Jones. The host wouldn't let the singer, his back-up vocalists and band leave the stage until they joined him in riotous renditions of 'Are You Washed in the Blood?' and 'Higher, Higher'.
The unscripted fun was definitely an excellent segway into the night's main acts. It also allowed the audience to better interact with Dr Jones, who was absolutely hilarious in his emceeing duties getting down off the stage to interact with members of the audience and singing happy birthday to one of the girls working behind the scenes while the stage was set up for the visiting performers.
EMI gospel artist VaShawn Mitchell, who recently celebrated the launch of his newest album, 'Triumphant', soon took to the stage leading a time of praise and worship while accompanied by singers from BET's 'Sunday Best'. Past winners of the popular music competition Y'Anna Crawley, Leandria Johnson and Jessica Reedy joined in on favourites 'Awesome God', 'How Great is Our God' and 'There's Nobody Like My God'.
Ms Reedy then took the lead with a soul-searching performance of 'God is Smiling On Me'; Ms Crawley followed with 'Believe'.
Mr Mitchell then returned to the stage to perform songs from his latest album, including the title track 'Triumphant'. And as he and the team began an extended version of 'More and More', fans in the crowd rushed to the stage to dance and worship. His performance continued with his more traditional favourites 'His Blood Still Works', 'Nobody Greater Than You', and 'Oh, Happy Day'.
Finally, it was time for the headline act, Mary Mary.
Sisters Erika Atkins-Campbell and Tina Atkins-Campbell rolled out one song after another, seemingly filled with tons of energy. They presented many of their top-selling songs, including 'Heaven', 'Walkin', 'Speak to Me' and 'Yesterday', as well as their cross-over hit, 'Shackles (Praise You)'. That song brought the few members of the audience still seated, to their feet.
Not really wanting to end the night, audience members continued to dance and praise and thoroughly enjoy themselves as Mary Mary performed their final song, an extended version of the dancehall number one, 'Get Up'.