Amazing voices and soulful performances were the hallmark of the gospel concert-style first elimination show which saw the 10 finalists in this year’s Jamaica Gospel Star Competition making their debut last Sunday.
Singing out their hearts in front of the all-female judging panel were nine women: Amoya Thompson-Smith; Sasha Gay Sutherland; Regina Campbell; Chantal Smalling; Danielle Mayne; Michaela Jack; Johanna Morgan; Kimone Martin; and Chantal Simon, as well as Daron Mitchell, the only male. However, it is Mitchell’s second spin around the block, as he entered last year and placed second.
The format of the presentation saw viewers being treated to a video interview of the contestants in their home towns, casually attired, after which it cut to their arrival onstage totally transformed in their ‘Sunday best’. The songs, for the most part, were well chosen. It was the week for cover versions and among the songs chosen by the contestants were I Pray We’ll All Be Ready, originally done by the Chicago Mass Choir; the classic Alabaster Box, originally performed by CeCe Winans; Jesus Rescued me, a Martha Borg original; Jermaine Edwards’ Count Me Out; I’m Getting Ready, a Tasha Cobbs-Leonard original; Alvin Slaughter’s Champion of Love; Jesus What a Wonderful Child, originally done by Mariah Carey; Bigger God, originally done by Judith Gayle; and Erica Campbell’s A Little More Jesus.
Voting opened immediately after the performances, and it is a crucial aspect of the competition, because, based on a 50-50 percentage split of votes between the voting public and the judges, three contestants will be eliminated.
The next elimination show is on Sunday, July 17 and only seven contestants will be brought back. However, a wild card system called ‘Saved by Grace’ will see one finalist, who is considered to be worthy of a second chance, but who was voted off, being brought back. Persons are encouraged to call or text the word ‘vote’ from any network to the number assigned to their favourite finalist.
The judges are gospel minister, songwriter and voice lecturer, Trevelle Clarke-Whyne; gospel minister, singer and songwriter, Alyssia Taylor; and veteran radio personality, singer and songwriter, Nadine Blair
The Gospel Star Competition is a rebrand of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s iconic Jamaica Gospel Song Competition. Each week contestants will perform non-original/cover songs in a televised performance and elimination show which will showcase reggae, dancehall gospel and traditional gospel.
The four-part television series will culminate with the competition’s grand final on Saturday, July 30 at the National Arena.