Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Diva Aids SVG Methodists

Pastor Wendy Mitchell. Photo by Nelson A. King

Gospel diva rocks concert to aid SVG church
By Nelson A. King

Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 2:10 PM EDT

A leading Caribbean gospel diva in New York recently brought the house down in a soul-ripping concert in aid of a Methodist church in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Trinidad and Tobago-born Pastor Wendy Mitchell held the packed audience in paroxysms with hits after hits in her wide repertoire at the annual gospel concert, at Public School 91, in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, in helping the Richland Park Methodist Church.

Mitchell – the first female vocalist with the renowned Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, before becoming a born-again Christian – belched out popular renditions, such as “Roll Back the Curtain;” “Hallelujah, Praise Ye the Lord;” and “I’m Trading My Sorrows – in the 3 ½ -hour-long concert, organized by the Brooklyn-based Vincentian Christian Charity Organization (VINCO).

VINCO members – who worship at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church in Brooklyn – have been, for the last five years, conducting gospel concerts, independent of the church, to help in the refurbishing, among other things, of rural Methodist churches at home.

Proceeds have to date aided the Chateaubelair, Evesham, Georgetown, and Troumaca Methodist churches.

“It was a great pleasure ministering before God’s people, especially for such a good cause,” said Mitchell, who, in yester years provided background vocals for a number of leading Caribbean calypsonians, such as the Mighty Sparrow, Kitchener and Calypso Rose, in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview.

“I believe it is our duty to (do so),” added the pastor at House of God Missions Church in Brooklyn, who was the major headliner in the absence of the award-winning Caribbean Gospel Diva, Bridget Blucher, who had a simultaneous engagement in Boston, Ma.

“As Romans 15:1 says, ‘We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves,’” Mitchell continued.

“So, I am always happy to support such ventures,” she said. “After all, this is about showing the love of God abroad.”

Mitchell also used the opportunity to bring others to know the Lord, stating that she is “highly driven” by her passion to “evangelize and lead others to Christ.”

“I thank God two people gave their lives to Jesus this evening (on Oct. 3),” she said. “God is truly awesome.

“The concert was wonderful,” Mitchell added. “And even though I am not from St Vincent and the Grenadines, I felt very proud to see the culture being preserved, because, sadly, our young people are not aware of the rich cultural heritage that they have inherited.”

She lauded the United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn (UVCGB) for such preservation. The group has, among others, over the years, performed freely at VINCO’s gospel concerts, rendering gospel and cultural staples to the wide Caribbean audience.

Roxie Irish, UVCGB president, said the rapidly rising group was “proud and honored” to give its time and talent for a worthy cause.

“To really get where you’re going in life, you have to know where you came from,” she told Caribbean Life. “Progress comes when you’re persistent.

“In my mind, no matter where I go, I’m still a Vincentian,” she added. “I appreciate my country and my culture.

“My culture is who I am,” Irish continued. “You shouldn’t highlight other people’s culture and forget about yours. You shouldn’t lose your identity.”

The concert also featured the Brooklyn-based Attributes of Christ Ministries’ choir, whose pastor is Vincentian William Muckett, renowned as “Brother Muckett,” as well as Vincentians Vonetta Richards, Josette Fraser, Rachel Scott, and the artiste who only wants to be called DUN.

Jamaican gospel artiste Dennis Chin also added variety to the riveting event. Popular Vincentian DJ Supa Eyes provided musical accompaniment.

“I was very delighted to be there, because the event was raising funds for St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and whatever I can do to help my country, I’ll do it,” Richards said.

“I hope the message I put forth touched the hearts and lives of my people,” added Richards, who rendered “We Need to Hear from You;” “Through It All;” “Hear My Cry, O Lord; and “It Is Raining.”

“It’s always good to give back to your country,” she continued.

“I think the concert was very, very good,” said Tom Doyle, who carries the sobriquet “Lord Tom” and who owns the San Souci Recording Studio in Brooklyn. Doyle also produced the music of many of the gospel artistes, including Chin, Richards and DUN.

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