‘Lean on Me’ has talent galore

The ‘Lean on Me’ concert Saturday night featured an abundance of local talent, with participants ranging in age from four to 44-plus. Musical genres included gospel, country, rock and urban pop, with items presented by soloists, duos, small groups and some acts that filled the Lions Centre stage.

Emcees Tonya Mitchell and Edlin Myles

Emcees Tonya Mitchell and Edlin Myles keep the evening flowing. Photo: Carol Winker

In fact, there was so much talent that, even without some of the performers listed in the programme, the show still lasted 5 ½ hours.

‘We definitely need to cut down on the number of performers for the next show,’ ‘Lean on Me’ Committee chairwoman Derri Lee agreed.

But the committee faces two problems, each positive in its way. One is the number of people who want to be involved in the charity event, which began last year as a fundraiser for Nina Orrett, who underwent surgery for a brain tumour. This year, proceeds are being split among Cayman HospiceCare, The Pines and entertainer Errol ‘Skanky’ Grant, who is battling cancer.

The second problem is the committee’s desire to support local performers. ‘They are just as good as and even better than some of the performers who come here from other countries,’ Derri said.

Certainly some of the individuals and groups taking part in the concert have had less experience than others, but all had their special cheering sections in the audience.

In fact, Edlin Myles got into a little trouble with co-emcee Tonya Mitchell when he tried to distinguish between ‘stars’ and ‘big stars’ in his comments about relative newcomers to the entertainment scene compared with those whose names are well established.

Edlin and Tonya kept the evening flowing with their conversational style, ability to relate to the audience and remarks appropriate to each act.

The show started a little late because no one wanted to go ahead without Skanky present. Moments after his limousine pulled up, the concert opened with the National Song by Derri Lee and Nina Orrett. Nina then told Skanky how much the love and support from last year’s concert had helped her. She repeated the message in song with ‘He’ll Do It Again’.

Young dancers Kalie Broderick and Charlee Walton showed where the next generation of talent is coming from and Platinum Stepperz and Chica showed how it develops.

Cayman Break Dancers and Xcitement – Julian Powery’s Dance Group demonstrated how rhythm and athleticism have produced a whole new dance form. CBR combined rap with some commanding moves.

Bands included Intransit, Impulz – which also backed several singers – and Musical Crew, the groups Skanky performs with. Before singing, he told the audience, ‘I feel blessed and loved tonight.’ He asked people to keep up their prayers and support.

Distinctive styles marked the songs of soloists: Dellon Myles, Raybourne Kelly, Theo Morgan, Stephanie Webster, Andrea Rivera, Wardley Conolly, Mercita, Mona Lisa Tatum and Miss Grizzell. Drew Bodden received a standing ovation for a performance beyond her years.

Fortunately the concert was not a competition, as it would have been difficult to compare artistic merits and audience appeal.

For example, Kurt Tibbetts offered a soulful version of Garth Brooks’ ‘The Dance’. Did people cheer wildly because they loved his singing or because they enjoyed seeing Cayman’s Leader of Government Business in a rare light?

Edlin compared Kurt to Elvis Presley and he had titles for other singers he knows from earlier circuits. Eldon Rankine was Mr. Cool, Gerald Rankine was Mr. Smooth, Papie Conolly was Mr. Country and of course Coolie the Cool has a name that says it all.

Barbara Gee and Molly Bryan received accolades for their solos, but people who know they are sisters probably wished they would have done a number together.

There was harmonising, however, in the uplifting ‘Let This Be Our Prayer’ by Jamesette Anglin and Jeff Wilson, and in the spirited ‘Lean on Me’ by Nadine Hylton and her group.

The evening also features a body-building display by Diane Chung, Agueda Broderick and Karen Woon Sam, a recital of the poem Womanhood by Rotaract Blue, and two fashion shows.

The first fashion display was comprehensive and sophisticated, the product of Twilight Company Ltd., whose driving forces are Delisa Hernandez and Tiffany Ebanks. The second parade emphasised more casual apparel; it was presented by One 345 Collection.

Making special appearances were Miss Teen Yentel McGaw and Miss Cayman Islands Rebecca Parchment.

Not all the talent was on stage. It took professional skill to put together the pre-concert slide show about cancer and the work of the Lean on Me Committee. Camera work during the concert showed performers close up.

DJ La Familia filled the interludes.

Volunteers showed versatility. Members of Rotaract, Rotaract Blue, Leos and Commonwealth Youth Club handed out programmes, sold refreshments, set out and collected 1,400 chairs and generally helped the committee. ‘They did a fantastic job,’ Derri said.

She also thanked concert sponsors. Among them: Hew’s Cleaning Services, which assisted in memory of an employee who died of cancer.

Members of the Lean on Me Committee are Tonya Mitchell, Anita Khan, Richard Christian, Dahlia Clarke, Kevin Dawkins, Luigi Moxam, Dione Thompson, Darren Dixon, Diane Chung and Melanie Seymour.