Top Caribbean’s gospel icons are set to perform at Brooklyn’s Bethesda Healing Center on Saturday, June 1 to launch this year’s Caribbean Week in New York. Nearly a dozen of the most talented and accomplished artists will light up the occasion with inspirational messages through song, dance and other performances at the event, organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) New York office. and runs from 6 – 9 p.m.
“The gospel celebration is an excellent way to begin what is for us the most important week on the calendar in New York,” says Sylma Brown, who heads the CTO New York office. “As Caribbean nationals, it’s part of our culture to begin events with praise and prayer. It allows us to maintain this tradition while we celebrate our unity and diversity.”
Headliner is Trinidad & Tobago’s Pastor Wendy Mitchell, described as a rare and exceptional talent, with the kind of vocal versatility that only few women of gospel possess. Pastor Mitchell, who says that among her greatest accomplishments was joining the world-renowned Byron Lee and the Dragonaires in 1984 as the band’s first female vocalist, has performed along with the top calypso and reggae artistes. She now contends that her voice is a vocal instrument used to minister to others and to touch lives.
Also scheduled to perform is Jamaica’s Hopeton Lewis, whose 1973 single, Grooving Out On Life, turned gold. Lewis was one of the key players in the evolution of Jamaican popular music and is credited with starting the Rock Steady era with his hit song, Take It Easy. But his roots lie in gospel: His talent for singing was discovered at age six when he sang in church; and he has returned to these roots, releasing 13 gospel CDs since 1996.
The Gospel Celebration will also feature Carol Addison of Trinidad and Tobago, a versatile gospel singer who has dedicated her life to ministering to others through music; Rev. Jerry Bowen of Barbados, a Hopeton Lewis Gospel Award winner who has performed alongside Papa San, CeCe Winnans, Bro. Paul, George Banton and Evangelist Bridget Blucher; Janice Charles, a former calypso monarch in her native Grenada, whose compelling, melodious vocals and captivating style stirs, encourages and lifts spirits as she ministers in calypso, Caribbean contemporary and reggae; Miriam Drakes of Saint Lucia, who began singing as a soloist in her church choir at the age of eight; Eddie Neblet of Guyana, whose breakthrough hit, Love N Unity, is heard over the telephone whenever callers to the Office of the president in his native Guyana are put on-hold; Know Your Culture of Dominica, a nonprofit professional traditional dance company which blends dance with the beauty and appeal of traditional costumes, into masterpieces for all audiences in the United States to enjoy; Michael Pugh of Brooklyn, New York, of Jamaican ancestry, described as one of the most anointed psalmists on this side of heaven; and Lafleur Durrant of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, a cancer survivor committed to the ministry of singing, who says: “My trials have become my testimony and my testimony has become my song,”
Caribbean Week in New York runs from June 1 – 8, with a series of consumer and industry-related events, including the fascinating Students’ Colloquium at which Caribbean students studying at the tertiary level present sustainable tourism projects that are practical and can provide a sustainable source of income for Caribbean nationals; the Caribbean Diaspora Forum, developed in collaboration with the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI); Caribbean Media Marketplace, where CTO member governments and private sector exhibitors interact with leading journalists from trade and consumer press; the Media Awards Luncheon, where the organization honours journalists for their award-winning features on the Caribbean; the Avalon Invest Caribbean Now Breakfast, the annual investment power forum on the Caribbean; and the Caribbean Marketing Conference & Awards Luncheon – organized by the CTO Allied members, where the latest cutting-edge marketing trends are presented and people who have made significant contributions to the region’s tourism development are recognised.
It is supported by the Association of Travel Marketing Executives, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, the Empire State Building, Face of Fashion, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Hardbeat Communications, Jamaica, Jewel Resorts, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Eustatius, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.
For full bios of the Gospel Celebration performers, the complete list of activities for Caribbean Week in New York and for information on how to participate, visit www.caribbeanweekny.com or call the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s New York office at (212) 635-9530.
About the Caribbean Tourism Organization
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of over 30 countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination by 2017, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.
Among the benefits to its members the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, research and information technology.
In addition the CTO, in partnership with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, jointly and equally owns the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a marketing and business development entity dedicated to promoting the Caribbean brand worldwide.
For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Organization please visit www.OneCaribbean.org.