Online concerts have been all the rage lately – and for good reason. Now that people have been ordered to stay indoors to help prevent the spread of covid-19, artistes, the world over have stepped up to the challenge by bringing virtual entertainment, live and direct, to their fans, via social media.
On April 12, local and regional Gospel entertainers came together and pulled off a riveting, two-and-a-half-hour Easter show, dubbed the Online Quarantine Concert; the second edition of its kind since lockdown started; which featured local gospel stars, Blessed Messenger, Shurnelle Spencer, Marc Isaacs, Ayanah Gordon-Wallace, and J Prince, as well as Guyanese gospel sensation, Samuel Medas.
To date, the Facebook Live event, organized by Gospel event manager, Aspire Agency along with Golden Eagle, falls just shy of 100,000 views combined, with active viewers from not just the Caribbean but around the world. A live, real-time audience clocking 1.6k stayed locked on till the very end to catch their favourite artistes go live from their individual pages in the relay-styled mega-concert.
Aspire’s CEO, Afiya Cunningham told Caribbean Insight, the virtual event was held to encourage people to keep the faith in these unprecedented times. “We saw the need for the Gospel music industry to stay relevant by being creative and sharing the gospel of hope. The message we hope to get across is that this too shall pass and you are not alone. We, the industry stakeholders, ministers, are all here with you to remind you that God is in control of this entire situation.”
Cunningham said the team is now gearing up to host the third installment of the concert series, carded for May 10, which will be a Mother’s Day special. “Right now it is easy to feel isolated, paranoid, and depressed because we don’t know when the virus will end, but we need to stay cognizant of God and His promises. He will never leave nor forsake us.”
As for the artistes – well they had a great time too, as they brought the Word and the vibes to their fans all from the safety of their own homes.
We caught up with them this week and here’s what they told us.
The message of Jesus Christ was the message I wanted to give to our viewers – that He lives and is still in control. Before the lockdown, I was involved in spreading the word through music on Facebook, so this is just a continuation of what was already in place. I will just be doing a lot more than usual. It’s definitely very important because there are people out there going through what we may consider to be hell on earth – depression, oppression, frustration. But just that news of hope, faith, joy, and peace, can be vital in someone’s freedom. Only Christ can set you free.
During my set, I really wanted to encourage everyone. Give them a sense of hope and renewed strength in Christ. 2 Timothy says; “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Even though the times seem uncertain, God’s assurance that He has given us a spirit of power to overcome, a spirit of love so we can love each other through this difficult time and a spirit of a sound mind that keeps us from anxiety and depression, gives us perfect peace in the midst of this storm.
We can be so bombarded with challenging news, and worrying situations, I think it’s important that we bombard all mediums of communication with good news as well. It’s important to stay informed as well as stay positive. It can be so easy to slip into a state of depression or hopelessness but we must do our part to continue to spread good news, positive energy, good vibes. We in this together, so it’s about making sure we in a good mental space to stay the course of this journey.
I really wanted people to see opportunity in the midst of the crisis, to see Christ in the crisis. I emphasized the importance of knowing where our help truly comes from and trusting God to help us come out of this stronger and better. A little bit of hope during difficult times can make the difference between life and death for some. The good news in song can really encourage and uplift us just in time. We must all be reminded that Christ, our Lord, is with us and is intent on bringing us closer to Him, with every life experience, once we set our hearts on Him.
The fuel for me is always the same – to make you feel the passion I have for the one who gave my life meaning, and for that passion to become contagious. It’s to share the hope that Jesus gives, especially in these sketchy times. And It’s not any more important now, than it was at other times in the past. To tell people about Jesus is not a seasonal thing but we’ve been given so many diverse platforms now. And to be honest, I think what we’re doing now through social media could have been done a long time ago, but it’s just amplified because COVID-19 put us on pause long enough for us to refocus.
As host, it was a blessing to have the opportunity to share hope and bring some good news to homes around the world. Broadcasting from my home had a special feel to it. As an artiste, many of my songs speak to an eternal home and to share that was a joy! To be able to praise Jesus in such a challenging time with folks from all over, was uplifting, and you could feel the energy on the live feed via the comment section. It was LIT! Music TT also sponsored the concert and so I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude toward them. Zenith Concepts, another gospel group also partnered, so again the unity displayed was encouraging.
I had just started a school tour, entitled, 73VN, where I’d visit seven schools, seven prisons and seven communities. The day after, the Government announced that schools were to be closed. Quarantine had begun. Determined to not let that hamper me, my fellow artistes and I decided to start the Online concert series and take the music directly to the people.
This time has shown us how to adapt quickly and not to focus on the things we “used” to do but focus on the things we can because this season may last way longer than we think. We need to take it as an opportunity to learn, grow, get closer to family, friends and God. Weeping may endure for a night but Joy comes in the morning.
My message is always one of hope. The truest form of hope is found in having a relationship with Christ. And even if you don’t have a relationship, just reach out to Him. Start small. Just say, “God I need help.’ It’s important to uplift others in this time because we don’t understand what everyone is going through. Some people may have lost their jobs or have other difficulties, some may have lost family members to this virus. But knowing that there is someone praying for you, sending out a positive word, it’s important for them to know there are still people who care. These positive messages we put out help us recognise the light in the darkness. This situation is not forever. You have more to live for and you can still have hope for the future.