By Christopher Tobutt
The Motivational Messages concert, on Saturday 30 May was a very special evening of entertainment and positive messages, bringing hope and faith through songs and comments and even comedy. It was, like all concerts at the moment, a virtual “Zoom”-based event, and more than 200 people from Cayman joined in, and there were many thousands more from all over the world. The concert was to raise spirits, and give hope, and also raise funds for local charity Resilience Cayman.
There were some big-name singers and choirs from around the world, including the Aeolians from Alabama, the Paul Lee Choir, and Jamaican artist Conkahra and the Tonga Sisters, with Tone6. The show also featured rising stars from the Cayman Islands, including the Williams Family (who used to be a quartet but have now been joined by a fifth sibling, making it a quintet) who sing beautiful gospel songs in the sweetest harmony you ever heard: “Thank you Lord, for your blessings to me,” as well as the contemporary sounds from gospel Rap artist and composer J- Prophyt who sang “Trust in God.” Comedy came in the form of Dr. Dexter Thomas, who spent half an hour telling some hilarious stories the concert was the culmination of a month of motivational messages for young people, organised by three different community outreach groups, the Ashley Shillingford Positive Living Foundation (ASPLF); the Salt Light City Ministry, and the Ebenezer Seventh-day Adventist Church, but it really reached out with a wonderful message of hope and strength to everyone, whether young or old. There was a particular emphasis on faith to overcoming the present, discouraging Covid-19 situation, and a strong message that, as a community ‘We shall overcome.’ It was a big shout-out to all the people who work on the front line, like doctors and nurses, not forgetting janitors and retail staff. One of the performances was a heartfelt song by Alicia Keys, saying “You’re doing a great job,” as photographs of behind-the-scenes Covid-19 heroes were shown: “I see you your light in the dark Bless your heart I love you for that. You’re doing a good job…the world needs you now,” she sang.
The evening began with a group of American High School students discussing mental health, and what they had learned from the suicide of a class mate. Often mental health is not properly talked about, they agreed, and it was time to be more frank about issues such as depression. There was also a presentation from Jane Panton, of the Alex Panton Foundation, who spoke about the importance of “removing the stigma,” attached to mental health issues.
Jan Gupta, Founder of Resilience Cayman, one of the recipients of the evening’s fundraising, spoke about how the group, which manages to feed 1000 people a day who are finding it difficult during the Covid-19 crisis, was formed, as a “Journey of faith.”
There was music from Lurine Cato & UK Collaboration – a wonderful message of hope for us in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Kirk Franklin & Friends came next with a beautiful, multi-star and multi-harmony Zoom rendition of “Smile,” “You look so much better when you smile…” It was a lovely moment, and it must have brought joy into the hearts of everyone who saw it MC’S for the evening Dr. Wrendon Timothy and Shanda Gallego shone like stars themselves all evening, as they introduced the guests from all around the world (all joining in in different time Zones. Pastor G, a pastor with a wonderful contemporary gospel group, was zooming in at 3 O’clock in the morning.)
There were a lot of prizes, such as gift vouchers for local supermarkets and pharmacies, and they went out to audience members on Zoom, that the MCs felt were really smiling and rocking to the music. “This concert is all about unity and togetherness, love and healing and hope and optimism,” Ms Gallego said. And it really was, too.