The gospel gathering dubbed ‘Praise’ convened Saturday evening at the Governor’s home for two hours of musical inspiration.
Starting as twilight etched the palm trees against the sky, the Cayman National Cultural Foundation-sponsored event, the culmination of the weeklong Cayfest cultural celebration, featured six groups drawn from churches around the island.
Ranging from a Frank Sound Church of God duo singing to spotty instrumental accompaniment to an explosive performance by the 50-odd-member choir from the All Nations United Pentecostal Church, the evening drew an enthusiastic response from an audience of about 200, evenly balanced between families and the performers.
Governor Bruce Dinwiddy occupied front row centre, flanked by Cutural Foundation Managing Director Marcia Muttoo, while Master of Ceremonies Eziethamae Bodden introduced each act, ultimately calling down a blessing on the governor himself.
Ms Bodden offered the hope that the gathering, in only its second year, would become a regular feature on the Cayman calendar.
‘Praise is one of the events that a lot of Christian people look forward to,’ she said. ‘We look forward to it being an annual event.’
If excitement and audience response were a factor in a scheduling decision, Praise would top everyone’s list.
The most poignant moment of the evening came early when one of the 12-member Jesus And Me chorus from the Church of God Chapel, overcome by emotion, broke down weeping, clutching the microphone stand for support.
‘How wonderful to see so many young people praising the Lord,’ a beaming Ms Bodden told the audience, which responded with shouts of ‘praise God’ and ‘thank you, Jesus.’
The Agape Family Worship Centre was represented by 21 men and women performing three hymns that, by the rousing finale, inspired audience members to sing along, swaying and waving their arms.
Ms Bodden took her place as part of the 10-member Botswain Bay Presbyterian Church choir, delivering an energetic version of ‘What a Mighty God We Serve’ and ‘Oh, the Blood of Jesus’.
They were followed by the 26-member First Baptist choir, whose conductor led them through the rousing multi-part harmonies of ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ and a funky, syncopated rendition of ‘Keep on Makin’ a Way for Me’.
The evening was capped by the tumultuous appearance of the wildly enthusiastic choristers of the All Nations United Pentecostal Church.
Offering greetings to Governor Dinwiddy, punctuated by cries of ‘we magnify your name’ and ‘hallelujah’, the women of the chorus were impeccably clad in long tailored green skirts, white jackets and white pillbox hats trimmed in green filigree.
A male lead led the chorus in a dynamic, flawlessly executed performance of ‘Without You, Lord, There is no True Friend’, followed by a female lead in ‘Hallelujah, Praise His Name’, a fitting finale to the evening.
‘We always schedule them last,’ Ms Bodden said privately after the performance. ‘They always bring down the house.’