Tonight, Jamaican time took a back seat, as I arrived on time at the night’s event.
Claudelle Clarke’s Album Launch/concert was the highlight of the evening of September 26th, 2009, where all roads lead to the Sheraton Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. As guests filed in and took their seats, there was an anticipation of a night filled with good’ole devil stomping feet, han’ clapping, body-rocking, time in the Lord! Guests arrived from Canada, Jamaica and from the various states of the USA.
Singers were in place. Claudelle started the ball-a-rollin’ and it was non-stop from the git-go. People rocked, stomped and clapped as memories of church filled days in Jamaica filled our hearts and minds.
A mixture of church choruses had us rocking in our chairs. The night went on as various artists who accompanied her on her new album, joined her on stage at intervals. Artists such as Paul Watson form the undeniable Ambassadors, Leroy Smith from the legendary original Grace Thrillers group. There was a saxophone rendition from a rising female artiste from Atlanta, by the name of Chelsea. Boy, she can blow dat saxaphone! Bro. Garfield and Radic provided us with the more contemporary reggae sounds. Wi rock ina wi chair soh till!
For me, the highlight of the night came when Claudelle performed ‘Songs of Zion’, a compilation of sounds that captured the Jamaican pocomania/reggae style and rhythm of choruses. At the end of her rendition, the audience began to chant a line from the song-‘whui yo yo yoi’ and to the crowd’s delight, Claudelle decided that she would sing it again for us. But under one condition: that there would be individuals from the audience accompanying her on stage to sing and dance with her. Mi say, people shy yu si!. So, guess what Claudelle did? She began calling on individuals and then she walked down the aisle and handpicked a few from the crowd and that was when ‘pawty staat’. The audience was on their feet singing and clapping again, as the ‘chosen few’ got into the mood and began to chant, wheel an’ turn, wave, dance, skip, in free-style worship. It was so much fun! And guess what? I was up there too! Noh ask if mi noh wave mi scarf an wheel an’ tun to. It was an awesome fun, freedom-of-worship moment. Worship was at the center, and the singing and dancing were the expressions of that worship.
Claudelle will be sixty years old in November and I can tell you, her voice is just as strong and she is still full of energy, liveliness and power in her performance. Watching Claudelle perform, I could not believe she was 59 years old, and almost 60.
Everyone left the event feeling very satisfied, tired, but very full of ‘whoi yo yo yoi’.
Well, I was still chanting the ‘whui yo yo yoi’ on my way back home.
And yes, I do have her CD which is scratched up right now because I have been playing it so much.
One thing I know—if you are one of those who love to go back into time and relish those ‘ole time Jamaican gospel music…well, it is still alive and I am thankful that veterans of Jamaican gospel music, like Claudelle, are keeping it alive in our hearts and minds.