Shirley Caesar delivers at Sister’s Praise
After sterling performances from Kevin Downswell, Jermaine Edwards and George Nooks, with strong support from other talented Jamaican artistes, headliner Pastor Shirley Caesar put the spiritual icing on the inaugural staging of Sister’s Praise: Celebrating God’s Faithfulness, last Saturday night on the lawns at the Immaculate Conception High School (ICHS). In an unexpected move, to cap off her enveloping performance, the gospel minister asked the audience to donate money, on the spot, to the ICHS solar-panel project, which will receive all proceeds from the concert.
“Nobody told me to do it, they probably get after me, but I’m a big girl. I want to do something tonight. God has given me a ministry of helping folks,” said the multi-award winner. Then, leading by example, she donated US$100. Her gesture resulted in barriers being removed, at a gospel concert, for a cause other than having the audience getting closer to the stage to dance.
The well-organised and executed Sister’s Praise also acted as a retirement concert for outgoing principal Sister Angella Harris, whose wish it was to have a gospel concert of this magnitude at the school. With that in mind, the ICHS Home and School Association organised the concert in honour of her.
On and offstage, Caesar, the North Carolina native, with vocal support from the Caesar Singers, skilfully and creatively wove her, at times, humorous personal testimonies and words of encouragement throughout her electrifying performance.
“The only book that people are going to read is your life,” she told the “young teachers” and students, before making her way through the audience with favourite, Jesus I Love Calling Your Name. Willing participants took turns belting out lines from the immensely popular tune with gusto.
Then she returned to the stage to render more favourites like I Remember Mama, Faded Rose and No Charge.
With the music of the latter softly playing in the background, her message to the “young folk” was they have only one life, and it should be lived for Christ.
In general messaging, she said: “Music was stolen from the church, and so we are just taking our music back.”
And to end her uplifting musical service (she does service, not shows), the internationally acclaimed pastor prayed for rejuvenation, spiritual saturation and total set-free. Prayers of anointment specifically were also on the card for the ailing Sister Angella.
A grateful and amazed Sister Angella stayed until 12 a.m. to thank everyone, including the organisers, audience, artistes and her different families, for a special night.
“I can’t explain how touched I am,” she said, “I am not a concert person so a stage like this is just something amazing for me.”
Her expectation was a “little stage and some clapping. I never imagined anything like this. It has been a fantastic blessing for me.”
She added: “The last 18 months has been different in my life. It is a journey that I never expected to have; and the support that I have been receiving from parents, staff and students has been amazing.”
Proceeds for the concert will go towards purchasing solar panels for the Constant Spring Road-based institution. Emcees, Markland Edwards and Nadine Blair, as well as DJ Rebirth, along with performances from Dessi-Ann Yetman, Sherlon Russell and the ICHS Vintage Band, also contributed to the wonderful gospel experience.