Sun | Oct 2, 2022

Ja 60 Western Gala delivers colourful musical affair

Aerial drone show makes its way to MoBay

Published:Tuesday | August 9, 2022 | 12:08 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s coat of arms depicted by 300 aerial drones during the Western Gala Jamaica 60 celebration on Sunday.
Jamaica’s coat of arms depicted by 300 aerial drones during the Western Gala Jamaica 60 celebration on Sunday.
Chi Ching Ching
Chi Ching Ching


MONTEGO BAY’S night skies were lit up with colourful displays on Sunday as the special 300-drone showcase made its way to the western city for the Jamaica 60 Western Gala, part of the island’s diamond jubilee celebrations.

Hundreds of patrons who attended the event, held at Harmony Beach Park, craned their necks and pointed their phones and cameras skyward to record the event, which took place one day after a similar show was held at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday.

The 300 drones glowed in multiple colours, hundreds of feet overhead, as their controllers directed them to take several different shapes, such as Jamaica’s national bird – the hummingbird; the national flag; the country’s coat of arms; the national fruit – ackee; and the image of Jamaica’s legendary poet Louise ‘Miss Lou’ Bennett-Coverley.

These shapes were formed in the sky while equally iconic tunes such as Peter Tosh’s Jah is My Keeper, Toots and the Maytals’ Sweet and Dandy, and Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved blared over the speakers on centrestage.

Sydoney Calvert, who was among the patrons witnessing the awe-inspiring spectacle, praised the drones’ coordinated portrayal of Jamaica’s icons.

“The show was fascinating and mesmerising. The images that were used were the perfect depiction of Jamaica’s history, and the coordination was laudable,” said Calvert.

Another patron, Vanessa Williams, acknowledged being equally impressed by the drone showcase, which she described as impactful.

“The drone show was amazing, and I know it has left a great impact on many. I would sit and watch it all over again, and I know the children were also excited to behold such beauty,” said Williams.

The drone show took place between several musical performances, including dancehall sensations Chi Ching Ching and Microwave, songstress Georgia Henry, and gospel group Adoracion.

Dancehall artiste Chi Ching Ching got the crowd actively participating in body-swaying tunes to include Rope and Kick Out, even descending the stage at one point to teach his dance moves directly to patrons.

Chi Ching Ching, whose given name is Radion Beckford, told The Gleaner following his performance that he was pleased to be participating in such a momentous occasion to highlight Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of Independence since 1962.

“I loved the energy, the people are beautiful, the atmosphere is nice, and I never wanted to stop performing. But the deejay was having problems, so I decided to end it on a high note. But I would love to be here again in Montego Bay,” said Chi Ching Ching. “The youths must do more research on the country they are in because a lot of them don’t understand what Jamaica is or the value of Jamaica until they do more research.”

Chi Ching Ching’s musical selections closed out the night on the heels of several other performances that took place during the five-hour-long event. Other performers included songstress Georgia Wright with hits like My Boy Lollipop and Action while she danced on stage. Cabaret performer Lady Tammi T performed Redemption Song, Land of My Birth, and The Harder They Come.

Gospel performers had their chance to shine as well, as lyrical sensation Yvonne Cohen got the audience worked up with her musical renditions I Am Going Home on the Morning Train and He Touched Me, while fellow songstress Sudania B flooded the venue with the original melodies of her tunes Blessing Haffi Flow and Send Up the Praise.

Not to be outdone, gospel music group Adoracion got the crowd swaying and the stage shaking with their songs, including Cover Me Under Your Blood, while the Montego Bay New Testament Church of God’s men’s choir gave a soul-stirring performance of I’m Free (Praise the Lord, Free at Last).

Other acts during the Western Gala included performances from the Hatfield Cultural Group, and the 2019 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission winner Joanna Walker.

Culture Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, who participated in Sunday’s festivities, expressed pleasure that western Jamaica could witness the drones’ flight as Kingston had done.

“I am happy that we were able to take the drone show to you here in Montego Bay because Kingston is not Jamaica. We have to celebrate our 60th anniversary, and we are celebrating it in fine style,” Grange told the gathering.

The Western Gala was the most recent event to celebrate the year-long recognition of Jamaica’s 60th year of Independence under this year’s theme ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’.

Other anticipated events in honour of the national milestone include the upcoming celebration of Heritage Week in October, during which 60 men and 60 women will be recognised and awarded for outstanding contributions to Jamaica’s development and a revival competition to be held in both Kingston and Montego Bay.