The twelve finalists in the National Institute for Praise Productions (NiPP) Gospel Song Contest season 2 were officially released and presented to the public on Monday evening at an official awards ceremony held at the NiPP studio on 76 King George V Street, Roseau.
The NiPP held a most successful eliminations round on Saturday November 11, 2023. Each of the contestants performed an original song and were judged on composition (35), personality (15), and presentation (50). The finalists were selected from a group of 21 contestants. The finalists and their songs (in random order) are Brandon Cuffy (I pledge allegiance), Hope Olaleru (Come), Victor Bique (Spiritual battle), Shane Maloone (Save me), Nyel Grove (Always and forever), Blessing Jno Baptiste (Thankful), Kenrick Lawrence (Broken chains), Nickisha Yearwood Leatham ‘Change’ (Broken for your love), Philson Christmas (Tak tak), Janae Jackson (For you and me), Jemima Rolle (Fire, fire), and Jenillia Richards ‘Solace’ (Remedy). Nacheal Walsh (Daddy you’re my everything) has also been added to the list of finalists as an NiPP CEO Special Awardee, which brings the total to thirteen. The NiPP also took the opportunity to honour all twenty-one semi-finalists who performed at the Saturday night eliminations. Each was given a cash award of $250.00.
Ken Robinson, Executive Director of NiPP congratulated the artists on their outstanding performances and thanked them for coming forward and writing, composing, and performing great inspirational music in all its varied genres. “I applaud you because you have done a wonderful job,” he said, “you are making a difference and Dominica is safer, more stable because of you.”
Jerry Lloyd, gospel recording artist of long-standing repute, serves on the executive board and in artist development at NiPP. He intimated, that due to the NiPP’s interventions, gospel music in Dominica is once again experiencing a renaissance, and that he was happy and privileged to pass on his more than 40 years experience in the ministry of gospel music to the next generation of artists, musicians, and worship leaders. ” To find myself in the place where I am now able to train, suggests to me that God is passing along some things from [me] to you, because the new always comes out of the old so that your craft will go to another place, another level to become that kind of influence that we may once again touch the world for Jesus” he said. Lloyd challenged the singers to embrace the platform being offered them as an opportunity to propagate the gospel. “There is a certain responsibility that is placed upon you now to carry this gospel in song from here, so that the next generation can get it. It’s a responsibility, it’s more than just a song, it’s more than just a win; it’s an opportunity and it’s a responsibility” he said.
A few of the contestants also took to the head table to express their gratitude to the NiPP for honing their craft and creating and offering the opportunity and platform to produce, record and distribute their music free of charge. Leon Royer, who did not receive a nudge from the judges to the finals, said that he was happy to have participated in the NiPP gospel song contest, not only because it afforded him the opportunity to write and perform gospel music, but also because it helped him grow as an artist and boost his self confidence. “I got over my stage fright,” he said, “standing in front a crowd and singing out my own lyrics kinda always scared me, but after Saturday night, I got a nice piece of experience, and I am ready now to do it again.”
And although the NiPP’s gospel music contest is being offered as a competitive platform, Hope Olaleru, one of the finalists slated to perform at the grand final on the Dec 9, said he does not see it as such. “I honestly don’t see this as a competition. I see it as a means to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ through the ministry of music. I see it as a means of edification…healing, and revival” he said. This is exactly the larger vision of the organization.
Dr. Karen Robinson, executive member of the NiPP board, and coordinator-at-large of the season 2 of the gospel song contest, announced that the grand finale is set for December 9, at the Bill Daniel Memorial Park. The show will begin at 8:00pm. More than $10, 000 in prize money will be distributed among them. Each of the finalists will also have the opportunity to record his/her song free of charge at the NiPP recording studio which will be distributed on Spotify and other music streaming platforms.
NiPP also revealed at Monday night’s award ceremony, that Jerry Lloyd, gospel artist extraordinaire, and the ‘Caribbean Cowboy’ Julian Rivierre”, will take to the main stage as the featured guest artists for the night. Patrons are therefore in for a rare treat and ministry as “gospel reggae meets country gospel”.