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Entertainment of Sunday, 5 August 2007

Source: GNA

Electrifying gospel music at healing concert

Accra, Aug. 5, GNA - Those who made it to the Independence Square on Saturday August 4, 2007 for the Healing Concert of the Joseph Project organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations would testify that they had six hours of non-stop pure electrifying gospel music.

Before last Saturday, this country had been privileged to have hosted a number of internationally acclaimed gospel music stars, all of whom were unique in their own rights, but last Saturday's experience at the Healing Concert with Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Sherwin Gardner, Ghanaian born British Dilys Silla, Princess Ifeoma and their Ghanaian supporting artistes was nothing short of soul upliftment. Unlike some of the previous concerts with international gospel musicians, this time it was an entirely homeland and Diasporan African gospel artistes leading homeland and Diasporan Africans in praise and worship of their maker.

In fact for those Christians who did not attend the immediate past concerts held in Ghana by secular musicians from the US and the Caribbean, they had their due last Saturday and even more. If one did not know that the healing concert was actually an all gospel music affair, one would have thought that US and Caribbean secular music greats invaded the Independence Square and put the place on fire like it was nobody's business.

Curtsy smallish-looking Sherwin Gardner from the Trinidad and Tobago, the ecstatic throng of thousands of worshipers who turned up at the independence square for the healing concert were more than kept on their feet; Sherwin's phenomenal energy and agility blended with his piercing vocal quality literally electrified everyone present, including Former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey who was caught jumping with the crowd to Sherwin's tunes. That was how wild the show was.

Jake was actually the architect of the Joseph Project, which seeks to bridge the gap between Africans in the homeland and in the Diaspora through a series of strategies, including ceremonies dubbed: "Healing ceremonies", one of which is the healing concert.

At the healing concert it was as if Sherwin had stolen the show with his electrifying performance but no; Sherwin only brought the electricity but it was the tall and lanky Grammy award-winning father of American gospel music, Pastor Donnie McClurkin who took it to the next level when he pressed the switch to turn on the lights for the worshipers to see their way clearly into the throne room of God.

Pastor Donnie, as he is affectionately called, who is known for his mastery of languages amazed Ghanaian worshipers by translating and singing one of his songs originally from Surinamese and English into Twi right on the stage.

It was the first time for both Pastor Donnie and Sherwin in Ghana. But Pastor Donnie is very popular among Christians in Ghana through his powerful songs like "I've got my mind made up", "we fall down.", "I will sing", "Stand" and many more. Sherwin is virtually unheard of until last Saturday when he announced his presence in style to Ghanaians with his captivating songs like "Take the praise higher to the climax", "Praise Jesus", "Can't stop my praise" and others in the reggae, Raga, Dance hall and Soca flavours, sending the crowd wild for the whole one hour he was on stage.

Pastor Donnie was kind enough to sing more than ten of his most popular songs, including songs from his Grammy awarding winning new album, "Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs". At a point, he said he was short of songs to sing and the crowd screamed out songs they wanted him to sing and he did.

Several of the worshipers who spoke with this reporter said "we came to the concert to see Pastor Donnie because we are already in love with him but have also fallen in love with Sherwin Gardner." The concert, which formed a major part of the on-going Joseph Project healing ceremonies under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations also featured Dylis Silla from the UK in the R and B vein and Princess Ifeoma from Nigerian with her "Dependable God" medley and other equally captivating songs.

Interspersed with performances from the international artistes were renditions by local artistes comprising, Pastor Josh Laryea, Grace Ashie and Alabaster Box. They left no stone unturned either. They made Ghana proud with medleys of their most popular tunes.

Pastor Josh Laryea's Ngboo (I won't die), Ajoomi (I am blessed) and the newly introduced Todah (Thank you) in the African magic style moved the crowd off their seats and Grace Ashie's Me Nuntso Yesu (my Lord Jesus) medley kept the worshipers on their feet.

The Alabaster Box's version of Swahili traditional gospel tune, Nimekombolewa (we have been redeemed) and their most popular Nyonmo Baafee (God will do it) in the Ga kpalogo style, all with mouth-made rhythms equally kept the crowd screaming and dancing all out. Indeed the crowd kept screaming for more of their Alabaster Box after their performance.

The Winneba Youth Choir opened the show with the National anthem and with some captivating songs written, arranged and conducted by the choir's maestro extraordinaire, Paa John.

Performances from the Ghana Dance Company, which included drum appellations, heralded the entire show as well as Pastor Donnie's entrance unto the stage. Prior to his coming on stage Pastor Donnie could not hide in his bus but to join the crowd to do some local dance formations to songs by the local artistes.

The crowd was simply wild, waving a sea of handkerchiefs and very supportive of the artistes every step of the way. At 12.30 midnight, when Pastor Donnie announced that he was bringing the curtains down on his one hour performance, the crowd kept screaming for more. Pastor Donnie acknowledged that since the Bible days, divine revival had always begun in Africa, saying that Moses, Joseph and even Jesus Christ, all of whom were used by God for revivals in their time encountered God on the soils of Africa, particularly in Egypt. He therefore urged Africans not to take themselves for granted, saying that Africa was a safe haven for the world's greatest revivalists and continued to be the home of holiness, righteousness and true worship to God.

"Through the healing concert of the Joseph Project God is calling Africa back to its rightful place in God's scheme of things, a place of holiness and worship to the one and true God through Jesus Christ his son," he said.

The sound for the concert provided by Sammy Helwani's Master Mix was absolutely superb. So excellent was the sound quality the foreign artistes told the reporter they did not miss home much in terms of sound quality. It was directed ably by Ivan Quarshigah of Farmhouse Production. The lighting system was equally fantastic.

Concert organizers told this reporter that an edited version of the concert would be televised on Trinity Broadcasting Network and on the Discovery Channel back in the US.

"This concert would go down in the annals of our dear country as the best true praise and worship experience ever," one worshiper told this reporter.

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