The 16-year old group, directed by well-known Jamaican Tenor Steve Higgins, burst onto the stage with energy and gusto as thy rendered “The Gloria” from Olive Lewin’s Folk Mass, an intricate and beautiful piece with brilliant and haunting harmonies woven into its DNA. Soloists Heather Chin-loy, Debra Young, Heather Davis, Richard Neish and Michelle James truly delivered well.
The 35-voice strong chorale continued with “Holy Mount Zion” (Lewin) to the evocative and poignant rhythm of the Congo drum, as if transporting the audience to the top of that Holy Mount. The SFCC continued with authenticreligious music from the Jamaican Folk genre with favorites such as “Daniel Saw the Stone”, “Keyman”, “On Dat Great Day” and “Journeyman”, ending their segment with noted Jamaican composer Noel Dexter’sarrangement of Psalm 150, “O Praise ye the Lord”.Drumming was masterfully done by percussionist Jonathan Higgins.
Thediverse audience shared its absolute delight with thunderous applause and some with a standing ovation in appreciation of this choir, which is the only one of its kind in the Diaspora, in the South East USA.The Choralewas founded by Higgins in 2002, with the primary aim of leading the singingfor the annual ecumenical church service celebrating Jamaica’s independence, which is hosted by the Jamaican Consulate S.E. USAeach year.
The show continued with a breathtaking performance by the evening’s headliners, the internationally renowned Soweto Gospel Choir, which was ending its tour in the USA. Their “Songs of the Free” tourwas dedicatedtohonoring the 100th anniversary of the birthof Freedom fighter and former President of South Africa, Madiba Nelson Mandela.
Within the kaleidoscope of world-class renditions, whetherin their home tongueor in English, they delivered their renditions in rich, precise and indelible harmonies,blending perfectly throughout their highly nuanced presentation. Amidst Christmas music and well-known contemporary songs, came the soul-stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace”, which was truly astounding! The euphonic voices and professional delivery obviously touched the audience, who did not want this enchanting experience to end. This was evident by the number of encores requested!
Bravissimo to the Broward Center for The Performing Arts and the Parker Playhouse for arranging this collaborationof talent from the Eastern andWestern Hemispheres.