Eight Heavyweights – one stage, one night

Some of the country’s best gospel artists are coming together for one night on one stage for Shaback’s Greatness in Bahamian Gospel Concert in honor of William “Mark” Cartwright, the pioneer of Fam Fest, the family festival built on the foundation of Bahamian gospel music, good food and clean fun.

Shaback along with Tamika Taylor, Oslien Jadorate, Kem Gardiner, The Singing Bishop and Prophet Lawrence Rolle, Simeon Outten, DJ Godson, Edison Sumner & Voices of Praise, Bishop Denczil Rolle & Friends and The Rahming Brothers will take to the stage at Salem Baptist Church on Taylor Street on Sunday, December 16 for what is expected to be an epic concert at which a love offering will be collected and donated to Cartwright who has been receiving

treatment for the past year for an illness.

“What’s so exciting about this is that this is bringing together eight of the top gospel artists in this country on one stage for a free community concert,” said Watson, Shaback’s founder.

“Many people don’t realize there was no Fam Fest this year – and the reason was because Mark Cartwright was overseas doing treatment for an illness. Many people don’t realize he [Cartwright] was the one who single-handedly made sure Fam Fest happened and there was none this year. The gospel community decided that we can’t let it go just like that. We want the Bahamian people to have something tangible from the gospel community, and what better time to do it than the holiday season to put on an event for the entire family to enjoy and to end the year strong.”

Watson said Shaback was preparing to host its holiday concert and decided to share the stage with other gospel artists.

“We decided to put this on to be a tribute to Mark Cartwright. We wanted to be a blessing to him. Mark is not one who would ever ask for help or assistance, but he’s always been there assisting people, so we decided to help him with his medical expenses. All of the proceeds we will collect as a love offering will go to him as we honor him. This is the gospel community honoring him, thanking him and giving something tangible back to him. We just want people to come out as we honor a great Bahamian man who has done so much for gospel music in the country and to be a blessing to him.”

Fans of gospel music are in for a treat. In the 22 years of Fam Fest, the eight groups and artists that have come together to perform at Shaback’s Greatness in Bahamian Gospel Concert have never performed on the same stage in one night. They all performed on different nights.

“This will be the first to have all of these outstanding Bahamian artists on stage on the same night and it’s a great even to end the year,” he said. “It will be a great time to celebrate a difficult year that many people have come through and to be able to celebrate God, celebrate life, despite it all. We’re excited to be able to do this.”

Cartwright started Fam Fest because he said there wasn’t enough family-focused events at which alcohol was not offered. Initially the event was a fundraiser for the Centre for the Deaf; after the second year, organizers had people calling them who wanted to attend the event but could not afford to, even though the entry fee was only $5. Cartwright recalled a lady with five children who said she only made a salary of $150 weekly wanting to attend, and giving her free entry. After that day they decided it would be a free event.

Fam Fest is an annual family festival built on the foundation of Bahamian gospel music, good food and clean fun. It has grown tremendously since its debut in 1996. In previous years it has taken the form of nightly sessions for one week, climaxing with a day of activity zones – kids, youth, culture, health and fitness, sporting events, water parks, food courts and a showcase of all the fine artists from the Fam Entertainment label.

Da Fam’s message is one of unity, love and peace and hope to the “unchurched” populace through the compelling art of music.

“Mark Cartwright has been there for just about every artist in this country. He has paved the way for and opened doors – this is the gospel community honoring a great man,” said Watson.

The concert kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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