Senator the Honourable Donna Cox was in attendance at this year's GMATT

Minister of Communications, the Honourable Donna Cox, and Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, have stamped their approval on the Gospel Music Awards Trinidad and Tobago, (GMATT), 2020, now in its third consecutive year.

The gospel affair, held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, (NAPA), Port-of-Spain, on February 2nd, brought out the biggest and brightest stars in the local gospel fraternity, who came red carpet ready, as they were honoured for their contributions to the genre before hundreds of fans, family and industry peers. 

Recognizing T&T’s Gospel Artistes

This year was a special one for GMATT as it marked the first time the award show was officially added as a cultural event, under the music category, by the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, (MCDCA). Minister Gadsby-Dolly told Caribbean Insight that the success and growth of GMATT, “heralds the recognition of the rich potential of local gospel artistes, their contributions to Trinidad and Tobago’s culture, and the ability of Trinidad and Tobago to maintain and grow its regional leadership in the gospel genre.”

“The Cultural Calendar published by the MCDCA covers events to which the Ministry gives funding support, as well as events that take place in our performing spaces. GMATT qualifies in both categories. We have been pleased to support GMATT from its first year, and we are proud to see how it has grown into a much anticipated and well-organised staple in the cultural landscape. The gospel genre is one that has begun to flourish even more significantly in the last few years in Trinidad and Tobago. The MCDCA’s niche is supporting developing genres so that they grow and take their place in our diverse cultural ecology.” 

Female Artiste of the Year, Candice Caton

Minister Cox, who also attended the event, said GMATT exceeded her expectations.

My experience was definitely memorable. I knew that our gospel industry was filled with talented artistes but I was blown away by the level of excellence showcased and the high levels of professionalism and production quality displayed at the show. Gospel music in Trinidad and Tobago is definitely at a high standard and can hold its own on the world stage. It is definitely heading in the right direction.”

GMATT’s big winners

GMATT recognised artistes in 19 categories, including, Song of the Year, Female and Male Artistes of the Year, Album of the Year, Music Video of the Year and Lifetime Award.

Blessed Messenger, emerged the night’s biggest winner, walking away with both the Male Artiste of the Year and Song of the Year awards, which he won for the third and second time, respectively.

Blessed Messenger accepting his award

In a chat with Caribbean Insight, the ‘Never Fail me Yet’ Tobago-born singer, whose real name is Tyrone Walters, said he was honoured to be recognised for his contributions to the gospel industry. “I must say thanks to God for blessing me with such a gift so I can make a difference in this world. I am also  humbled by the support of the people.”

Candice Caton, a soulful vocalist with over 15 years experience in music, copped the Female of the Year Award. “I feel incredibly blessed to go from winning Breakout Artist of the year last year to winning Female Artist of the year this year. I can only credit God for His grace and favour, and all my family, friends and supporters who have shown their love and genuine support.”

Nominated in five categories, Samuel “Farenite” Selkridge, copped Album of the Year for ‘Transit,’ which features the crossover tracks, Still Standing and Watch Dem. Farenite shared with us what fans can look forward to from his latest offering, which he said was four years in the making. 

“It’s a fusion of genres – reggae, soca, dancehall and afrobeat – used as the platform to express my heart, as it relates to love, badmind, praise, encouragement, etc. It’s strong, cutting edge, Bible-based lyrical content. One can be expected to take a journey with each song, moving from negative emotions to more positive uplifting ones.”

Music with a message

My favourite act of the evening came from The Bryant Henry Mime Ministry Team, which delivered a stellar performance of Reckless Song. Bryant also received GMATT’s Special Ministry Award and noted that his group has been ministering throughout Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean, since 2005. “Our greatest passion is ministering in mime in the street corners, schools, prisons and at-risk communities.”

The Bryant Henry Mime Ministry Team performing at GMATT

Another stand out performer was Dannel Flaveny, who performed his tunes, Calling Me Home, Pray for We Enemies and Make Me Say, which had fans on their feet, singing along. Flaveny, 35, was signed to gospel record label, FlowMasters, at 18, but took a hiatus from music a few years later. “Now I’m back in full swing,” he asserted. “Events like GMATT show the local music industry that the Kingdom has a very high standard and quality of music. It also gives artistes a chance to be recognised for their contributions over the years.”

Hosted by Celian International, GMATT also featured American urban contemporary gospel quartet, The Walls Group. The performers – siblings who hail from Houston Texas – took the vibes to another level and gave fans just what they wanted, belting out some of their biggest hits, like Love on the Radio, And You don’t Stop, Friend in Me and Satisfied.

Ian Haywood, Managing Director, Celian International, concluded that “The growth of this three-year-old event is nothing less than amazing. It’s a testament to the fact that there is a budding market for positivity, motivational and clean entertainment in Trinidad and Tobago.”

(For the full list of winners visit Celian International’s IG page).