ut of the pandemic has emerged a gospel music event as organizers hope to inspire harmony in a nation and bring people together for a soulful time. Buttons Formal Wear and Fusion Superplex have partnered to produce the first “Grace & Glory” gospel music competition for choirs and soloists over the next two months.
“Grace & Glory” music showcase will honor the memory of Samuel C. Stubbs and Dr. Richard E. Dean who organizers say made meaningful contributions to The Bahamas through gospel music.
Participants will compete for cash prizes across the Richard Dean Choir Award, which offers $12,000 in prizes; and the Samuel C. Stubbs Soloist Award for which the prizes amount to $1,400.
“There’s an absence of choirs as soloists and praise and worship teams now provide most gospel music,” said Tommy Stubbs, senior consultant at Buttons. “That’s good, but there’s nothing that can compare to a choir which has a great potential to drive worshippers inside the halls of worship and provide glorious inspiration.
“Praising the gospel through music is a great inspiration. Many people tell us how much they miss mass choirs with choir directors becoming a dying breed. Our major objective is to return choirs to their prominent status.”
Stubbs said it was easy for them to select Fusion Superplex as a partner and the venue for “Grace & Glory” – the first Gospel Music Showcase (GMS), because of its state-of-the-art sound system that will bring gospel music alive, and facilities for the comfort of audiences.
GMS unfolds over five weeks – from November 1 to December 10 – at the Fusion Superplex facility on Gladstone Road and John F. Kennedy Drive.
Carlos Foulkes, CEO at Fusion Superplex, said they were delighted to partner with Buttons Formal Wear to present the event for choirs and soloists to receive financial benefits to help them continue to bring religious messages through music.
“We’re serious about making this a yearly event for the enjoyment of all who enjoy gospel music,” said Foulkes. “Our goal is to bring people together and, at the same time, provide resources for them to continue their work.”
Organizers are describing the event as a springboard for gospel artists to sing their praises and potentially pave the way to a career, or for those who are in the church to show their talents and bring praise and glory to the Lord at the same time.
“Fusion wants to be one of those places – if not the only one at this time – that would support and provide an environment to cultivate that type of talent and to give singers a place for expression,” said Foulkes.
With four possible levels of competition – from preliminary to finals – organizers believe the investment is worth the time and effort, not only monetary-wise, but to inspire others through the sound of gospel music.
The organizers desire to have 40 choirs and 40 soloists, with five choirs and five soloists advancing to a finale in the IMAX theater at Fusion Superplex on December 10 to start the holiday season.
“Many people believe they are the best singers in The Bahamas,” said Stubbs. “We’ll soon find out who are truly as good as they claim and take their rightful place as such.”
Organizers anticipate choirs from churches, civic and social groups, and individual soloists embracing “Grace & Glory,” if only to create or renew friendship through gospel music.
“We believe the power of music changes people’s behavior,” said Stubbs. “We want more people attracted to positive music that gets into the soul and to inspire a nation. After this event, this is what we hope to achieve. We certainly need more gospel music. No one who loves gospel music should miss this event and have regrets. Many churches have wonderful praise and worship teams. Let’s turn them into choirs and have some of them perform their solo acts.”
With the competition in honor of Dean and Stubbs, the organizers said too often the work and contribution of nation builders go unnoticed or are not remembered.
“We wanted to make sure the memories of these two men [Dean and Stubbs], who received high honors for their work and contributions while alive for more than 90 years, will live on a little longer,” said Stubbs.
Stubbs – fondly remembered as “Singing Sam”- was a sportsman, politician, union leader, taxi-cab driver, and a choir director at East Street Gospel Chapel. He performed inspirational songs during the struggle for workers’ rights and an independent Bahamas.
Dean was best known as an educator at the Boys Industrial School (current Simpson Penn Centre for Boys), and a dedicated civic leader. A choir director at the Southland Cathedral, he took its Church of God choir around the Family Islands and overseas to perform and compete for top honors.
Keno Wong, Stubbs’ grandson, and Nardo Dean, Dean’s son, said they were overwhelmed by the gesture of Buttons Formal Wear and Fusion Superplex by honoring their late relative.