NY radio host Brother Gary and his team, promoters of the ‘End of Year’ celebration in Brooklyn hit the jackpot on Friday with the successful staging of the much anticipated gospel event. Sporting the look and feel of a major calendar event, organisers promised much and delivered even more as thousands descended on the venue on Utica Avenue, this on a warm, snow less December night.
The secular acts…reggae singer Richie Stephens and Rastafarian crooner Gramps Morgan – the heart of the show – commanded the stage. Stephens who was stylishly attired, was warmly greeted by the packed pew. The veteran crooner went to work quickly, delivering a medley of gospel favorites that brought a spiritual vibe to the presentation. For his long time fans, Stephens crooned “Fight Back” – a timely classic that was recorded years ago with his friend Garnet Silk who died tragically in a fire at his home in 1993.
He earned a standing ovation for his heartfelt rendition of “A Change Is Gonna Come” and then poured his heart out on ‘Live Your Life,’ his current #1 hit song which was penned after the untimely death of his son Coppershot. After a work horse set, which included favorites like “The Lord’s Prayer,” “Yammo be There” and “Father I Love You,” Stephens returned for an encore and was joined by singer Gramps Morgan.
“Wow! The gospel concert in NYC was a wonderful blessing. I could feel ever note coming from deep within me and the people just could not get enough. Glory be to God” was his Facebook message to fans in cyber world soon after exciting the stage.
Gramps was also in fine nick and had the entire congregation waving bibles, hands, flags…whatever they could find as he took them down memory lane with the Morgan Heritage classic “Down The River.” The song struck a responsive chord with Christians in the house who sang along word for word. “Down By The River” made way for a heartfelt rendition of Palms 23 that was ‘liveicated’ to incarcerated DJ Buju Banton. “Wash the Tears” from his debut album “Two Sides of My Heart” hit the sweet spot and was delivered with a sort of reverence rarely seen at reggae events. The dancehall tinged “The Almighty” brought the curtain down on an enthralling set that had the massive dancing and skanking in their seats.
When I left the venue, the holy ghost party was in full effect with gospel veteran George Banton stirring up the congregation with songs from his catalogue and comedians Ity and Fancy Cat waiting in the wings.