Sat | Jun 6, 2020

No ‘Glory to God’ at reggae gospel fraternity’s awards show

Published:Friday | March 15, 2019 | 12:10 AMYasmine Peru/Gleaner Writer
Chozenn’s album did not make the cut for Album of the Year.
Chozenn’s album did not make the cut for Album of the Year.

While the secular world will be celebrating at Buju Banton’s Long Walk To Freedom concert on Saturday, devotees from the gospel fraternity will be indulging in a celebration of a different kind. They will be hosting the Sterling Gospel Music Awards, which is scheduled for the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

Now in its third year, the awards show, which is the brainchild of radio personality Basillia Barnaby-Cuff, will have its first Kingston staging, and the team is looking forward to the “industry coming to a halt” on Saturday night. And, just like, at last year’s event at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, patrons will be required to pay an entry fee.

“For our first year, it was invited guests only, but we subsequently opened it out to fans, and the turnout last year was great,” Barnaby-Cuff told The Gleaner. “This is our first year in Kingston, and it will be special. The fans are asking for it to be closer to them, and we are responding to their request. As somebody who lives in the country, I know that it is easier for country people to come to Kingston than it is the other way around.”

Awards will be handed out in 18 categories, among them Album of the Year, Male Artiste of the Year, Female Artiste of the Year, Video of the Year, Local Hit, and Collab of the Year. Each category has a total of four nominees.

However, missing from the nomination list is what is arguably the biggest gospel song for 2018 – Wayne Marshall’s hugely popular Glory to God. Surprisingly, the song, which also features gospel artiste Ryan Mark, didn’t make the cut. Barnaby-Cuff, while labelling Wayne Marshall’s song as “fabulous”, explained the reason for the perceived omission. Apparently, it was Wayne Marshall, the person, who didn’t meet the eligibility criteria set by the group who comprise the Confidential Sterling Committee.

“We love Wayne’s song,” she reiterated, “but the committee has a list of requirements that all nominees must meet. First of all, the nominees must be practising Christians, and Wayne Marshall isn’t, so, for that reason, the song could not be considered. But, as I said before, we really love the song.”


Barnaby-Cuff also pointed out that the committee didn’t think that the secular world was lacking in awards and disclosed that the decision was also made “not to mix secular with gospel”. The awards founder agreed that this was an effort to retain the purity of the awards, “as they (secular artistes) don’t align with what we stand for”. She said it would be like opening a can of worms.

Another song that did not meet the criteria was Chozenn’s controversial Bawl Out. However, Barnaby-Cuff said that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Chozenn came under fire for the remake of Dovey Magnum’s raunchy, sexually explicit offering, which was even banned by one religious radio station. It just wasn’t original enough.

“The committee don’t believe that the song was original,” Barnaby-Cuff said of the single, which contains original lyrics. She pointed out, however, that Chozenn’s album came up for consideration for the Album of the Year nomination but didn’t make it to the final four.

At the awards show, which is being staged under the theme ‘Royally Saluting Our Legends’, the organisers will be honouring gospel-music veterans who set the foundation in Jamaica. Among the Sterling honourees are veteran gospel singer Joan Flemmings, Papa San, Lt Stitchie, Sandra Brooks, Carlene Davis, The Grace Thrillers, Shirley Willis and Martin’s Heritage.

Among the performers at this year’s event are Lt Stitchie, Ryan Mark, Kevin Heath and Rhoda Isabella.