Celebrating Jamaica in Good Spirits

Outside, there was driving rain and the press of COVID curfew, but for the members of CCRP, there was warm fellowship, virtually shared, as well as peaceful reflection and mirth, as the organization presented a member-driven Talent Showcase, under the theme "Let's Celebrate Jamaica" on Wednesday evening (Aug. 25).

As diverse as the acts were, each of the performers delivered their items - whether lighthearted or serious - with a palpable passion and verve befitting the occasion.

In her welcome, Founder and Chair Jean Lowrie-Chin touched on the need for communal celebration, both in spite and because of the current issues and impositions. There was a salute to the athletes, and to the many other patriotic Jamaicans who had given of their time and talent in the interest of nation-building.

There was the spirit of overcoming on Rosemarie Voordouw's lilting saxophone rendition of the traditional classic "Fi Mi Love Have Lionheart " and also the stirring rendition of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" on mouth organ (harmonica) by Dr Owen James.

There were also reflections on the challenges - and opportunities - of the times. Former High Commissioner to the UK, Amb. Aloun Assamba offered a revelatory reflection on the power and benefits of "Silence"  and Berl Francis offered perspectives on healing through positive self-talk, as well as the virtues of the interior world. Winsome Miller-Rowe reflected on the "New World" of pandemic protocols and tech-driven social life and, from Retired Senior Parish Court Judge Lyle Armstrong, a piercing remembrance of visit to the notorious Ghanaian slave dungeons of "Elmina". 

There was more than enough levity to go around as well. Barbara Hylton sang "Moonshine Tonight" and "Poor Lizzy Jane";  Enid Bissember did a sprightly dance and Dr. Lilieth Nelson used music and speech artfully to recap the Festival Song winners through the years. Voordouw returned with Miss Lou's classic "No Lickle Twang" and Doris Halstead did Valerie Bloom's "Recommendation".

Janet Crick revisited the experience of former Gleaner writer Robert Lalah, orating his encounter with "Westico" a well known country duppy, in a way that surely elicited peals of laughter.

A different but no less enthusiastic response greeted arguably the night's most unique item. In a slide presentation, potter Vilya Thomas displayed some exquisite pieces, which had several clamoring for her contacts. 

Though the ladies outnumbered them, the men were not to be outdone with respect to quality. In addition to the aforementioned Dr James (who would return on harmonica), there was Winston Sherwood with a silky rendition of the Stylistics gem, "Stop, Look [Listen to Your Heart]", Retired Justice Roy Anderson, with "Shine On Us" and DiMario McDowell with a rousing take on Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds".

The latter two, both celebrating birthdays, would team up for an impromptu encore at the finale, sweetly crooning the Ben E King classic, "Spanish Harlem".

With the "la la la, la la la" of that chorus gently echoing, and with members of the virtual audience chiming in - digitally - their sincere appreciation of the offerings, the celebratory night came to a close.  Audience and participants alike returned to their respective spaces, warmed by the evident goodwill of the occasion.