No longer trying to be like Beyonce - Jodian Pantry stages gospel concert New Year’s Day
One dozen years have passed since Jodian Pantry hitched her wagon to a star when she placed second in the Digicel Rising Stars competition. The then 18-year-old Pantry had been no stranger to popularity, having placed second in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Gospel Festival Song Competition in 2001 with the George Gordon-penned I’ll Give My Heart, but this was on a dazzling, dizzying, new level. And Pantry admits that in her youthful exuberance to get things right, the path became somewhat strewn with “mistakes, errors, and disappointments”.
“I didn’t know who I was,” she told The Sunday Gleaner when asked about a recent ‘confessional’, which she posted to social media. In it, Pantry stated: “Ten years ago I was trying to be like a Beyoncé, Rihanna, Whitney Houston, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Celine Dion. Never did I consider that being yourself is always better than trying to be like someone else. Today, I am me, who God says I am. And it feels so right, so good, so satisfying and fulfilling and even greater knowing that others are being blessed by me and not in another’s image.”
The Rising Stars alum, who is now counted among the secular artistes who have embraced Christianity, says that the moment in which she wrote that post, she was overcome with gratitude.
“I was in a giving thanks mode, thinking about all the people back then who caused me pain. I was giving thanks for all the people who promised to help me in the business, and it turned out that they were looking for other things,” she explained.
She lists failed management, biased treatment in the music industry, and false promises as the salve which cleared her eyes. “I went gospel in 2016 after I was deceived by a promoter who flew me to the States for a show that never existed. The person and I ended up fighting, and the police all got involved. Mi all find myself in church up there. I was able to see clearly that I cannot go before God. He has to go before me. Since then, my life has changed for the better. Mi get all husband,” she said with delight, as she recalled the ceremony in 2018 when she got married in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and her husband in his police uniform.
Now fully embracing her journey as a gospel singer, Pantry is working on launching her EP on her birthday on April 24, 2020 and, has been in studio with producer Mikie Bennett. In the meantime, she has added the title gospel concert promoter to her résumé, and the straight-talking Pantry is ruffled by the obstacles in her path. “It’s the same thing as in secular, it is very segregated, with one group over here and another over there. Artistes block me and vex with me because dem work on the show when my husband was doing it, and I haven’t called them for it. A gospel artiste even cursed me off,” she said, still sounding amazed. But Pantry is tenacious and heaped praise on the sponsors who have come on board and the artistes and other persons who have supported the project. “Juici Patties was a part of my development and I am grateful to them, and I must also mention Mikie Bennett, who has contributed to my growth and development,” she said.
The annual New Year’s Day concert, Gospel Tenacity, was conceptualised by her husband, however, when he needed help, as the good wife, she stepped in. Now in its fifth year, the event, which unfolds at the Old Police Station in May Pen, Clarendon, has a give-back segment in which 70 boys and girls in state care are being fêted. The free fun day will have giveaways and a Peace Pot Celebrity Cook-off, sponsored by Grace.
The gospel extravaganza kicks off at 6 p.m. and Pantry will be supported by some of her musical colleagues, among them Kevin Heath, Jermaine Edwards, Rhoda Isabella, Sherlon (from Digicel Rising Stars), George Nooks, Tasha Masha, and Gassy Bless. The show will run until midnight.