The top 36 junior soloists, ensembles and choirs from across the island gathered at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston on Sunday, April 7 for a chance to out-shine and out-sing each other at the Jamaica Children’s Gospel Song Competition’s “Sweet 16” semi-final concert.
Organized by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), the free concert, saw the selection of the 24 finalists across two age groups and three categories, who will move on to the final round of the competition in May.
According to Andrew Clunis, Director Marketing & Public Relations at the JCDC, “Each of the 36 semi-finalists brought their own flavor of the Gospel to the competition, so the judges were given a real task to whittle down them down to the final 24. Every piece presented was above standard.”
He continued, “This year some remarkable talents were unearthed and we can’t wait to see how they improve on these awe-inspiring performances at the National Finals in May.”
The semi-finalists competed three categories: Choir, Ensemble and Solo, and two age classes: 6-10 years old and 11-15 years old.
The finalists in the Choir Category, 6 – 10 year old age group are: Ascot Primary out of St. Catherine with Oh the Lord; and out of Kinston and St. Andrew: Alpha Primary with Blood, Mona Preparatory with Jesus will Welcome Me and Torrington Early Childhood Institute with Glory to God.
The finalists in the Choir Category, 11 – 15 year old age group are: Mt. Airy Primary and Infant out of Westmoreland with African Medley; Ascot Past Students and Community Choir out of St. Catherine with Psalm 34; Mona Preparatory out of Kingston and St. Andrew with Worthy of Highest Praise and Port Maria High and Preparatory out of St. Mary with Soon I Will Be Done.
The finalist in the Ensemble Category, 6 – 10 year old age group are: Portmore Missionary Preparatory out of St. Catherine with Maintain; Mandeville Primary and Junior High out of Manchester with Amazing Grace; Alpha Primary out of Kingston and St. Andrew with Have What You Say and Hagley Park Preparatory, also out of Kingston with Oh Happy Day.
The finalists in the Ensemble Category, 11 – 15 year old age group are: Crescent Ensemble of the Crescent Primary School out of St. Catherine with Bigger God; DMTJ Youth Band out of Kingston and St. Andrew with No Greater Lover; Genesis of the Willowdene Group of Schools out St. Catherine with Oceans Medley and Port Maria High and Preparatory out of St. Mary with At Calvary.
The finalists in the Solo Category, 6 – 10 year old age group are: Dejahnae Francis of St. Catherine with I’m Free; Luke Nunes of Mar Jam Preparatory in St. Ann with Hallelujah to the King; Jonathan Dawkins of Manchester with Bless the Lord and Kimaro McDonald of Alpha Primary of Kingston and St. Andrew with Light Dem Up.
The finalists in the Solo Category, 11 – 15 year old age group are: Mikayla Treleven of Praise City international out of Kingston and St. Andrew with Still I Rise; Erica Lumsden of the Port Maria High and Preparatory out of St. Mary with Glory; Kevinna Melbourne of Morant Bay High out of St. Thomas with Never Would have Made It and Ezran Ashbourne of Dupont Primary School out of Kingston and St. Andrew with Ten Thousand Reasons.
Since its inception in 2003, the National Children’s Gospel Song Competition, which celebrates its “Sweet 16” this year, has been a significant platform for the development of Gospel’s youngest and most promising vocalists.
The 2019 National Children’s Gospel Song Competition is sponsored by the CHASE Fund, the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation, National Water Commission, Excelsior, Happy Ice and Popeyes.