In his first spiritual performance in Brooklyn, King Ajamu, the perennial Grenadian Calypso King-turned-Gospel artiste, on Sunday rocked the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn during the inaugural Gospel of Praise Concert hosted by the Brooklyn-based Dee Vee International Productions.
The four-hour-long concert was emceed by Dawn “Lady D” Samuels, a Jamaican-born, Bronx-based international singing/preaching evangelist, gospel recording artist, Christian comedienne, author of two books, pastor and gospel singer.
The event also featured a host of other gospel artistes and performers, including six-year-old Kelaiah Ventour, granddaughter of Grenadian Derek Ventour, president of Dee Vee International Productions, accompanied by DJ Page; Apostolic Voices; God’s Property Dancers; Veron Richards; Dr. Zorina Frederick; Princess Tyetia Hodge; Jacqueline Williams-King; Williams-King’s daughter, Abena Amory; saxophonist Joe Alert; Gerard Placide; and Donn Warde.
A moment of silence was observed for the late Trinidadian Calypso Queen Denyse Plummer.
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, was also on hand for the presentation of awards with Grenadian David Williams, the owner of David Williams Funeral Service in Queens.
Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Vincentian-born Fr. Leopold Baynes, whose wife is Grenadian, and Gentle Benjamin, otherwise known as “Gentle Ben”, of Gentle Ben TV.
Other awards were given to Grenadian United Methodist Church Minister the Rev. Wesley Daniel; Bishop Christopher Butler; and Ajamu.
“I was not new to this, but I’m true to this,” said Ajamu in receiving the surprise award. “Thank you very much, Mr. Derek Ventour. Mr. Ventour never ceases to amaze me.”
Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told patrons: “We have the strength. We’ve been through much more than the enemy has for us.”
In noting the anti-immigrant sentiments in Washington, she urged families and the community to come together in unity.
“This is a moment where I believe in our community,” the congresswoman said. “In a democracy, the people rule. Don’t make the distractions discourage you.”
In a high-octane performance, backed-up by his band and singers, Ajamu provided a gospel feast to the effervescent audience, belching out, among others, “Sing for You,” “Born Again,” “Never Get Weary” and “Prodigal Son.”
Trinidadian Placide, the three-time, first-place winner of the Mc Donald’s Gospel Fest, and Barbadian Ward rendered different versions of “How Great Thou Ar.t”
In making her singing debut, Kelaiah Ventour sang “Jesus Loves Me”; Richards sang “In the Master’s Hands”; Dr. Frederick wrote and sang “If I Didn’t Tell You, You Would Never Know”; Hodge played on keyboard and sang “I Am a Child of God”, “A Little More Oil” and “Soon and Very Soon”; Williams-King echoed “We Shall Behold Him”; Amory sang “You Say”; and Samuels offered “Goodness of God” and “Rivers of Babylon.”
“In general, the gospel concert I should say was my signature production,” Ventour told Caribbean Life afterwards. “All the performers gave a very good account of themselves, including my six-year-old granddaughter Kelaiah Ventour, who made her singing debut with the song ‘Jesus Loves Me.’
“The audience was very appreciative, dancing and clapping from start to finish,” he added. “It was an enjoyable experience overall.”
Ajamu’s bio before turning his life to Christ
Ajamu’s music reflects the variety of spices and musical art forms prevalent in Grenada and the Caribbean. He is adept in calypso, soca, parang and reggae. Few Caribbean entertainers can match him for his ability to write music, compose sharp and deep lyrics, or arrange music.
Ajamu began singing calypso in 1983 after a one-year stint in Trinidad & Tobago, where he experienced first-hand the great calypso stars in action.
Once he arrived on the calypso scene, fans welcomed this breath of fresh air and dubbed him King Ajamu, a title that he answers to, but his humble nature has not embraced.
Acknowledging his talent, Ajamu has since been hailed by both Calypso Rose, the Calypso Queen of the World, and The Mighty Sparrow, the Calypso King of the World, as a gifted, talented and top-class calypsonian.
Ajamu holds the unprecedented title as the seven-time Grenada Calypso Monarch, winning in the 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, and 2004, and he continues to make outstanding musical contributions generating CD after CD and hit after hit.
Standing at just 5’ 7”, this musical giant plays guitar, keyboards, drums, and is a certified sound engineer.
He has written, arranged, and produced songs for a number of top Grenadian calypsonians, and has transformed many a calypso with his finishing touches.
He concluded a great year in 1997 by winning the coveted “Male Vocalist of the Year” title at the impressive “Sunshine Awards” held in New York, beating out other calypso stars like David Rudder of TNT and Edwin Yearwood of Barbados.
His musical efforts have been recognized by the international music community as he has been featured regularly in the “Bible of the Music Industry” – Billboard Magazine.
For his services to the calypso art form, Ajamu became a member of an elite group of three calypsonians honored by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, with the prestigious title “Member of The British Empire” (MBE) in December of 1998.
Although he is recognized mostly for calypso and soca, he’s equally at home in the reggae genre.
With the release of his first reggae CD “Jah Is My King”, audiences got a taste of just how versatile he is. This was followed in 2005 by the long-awaited release of “Living Water.”
He is recognized by top reggae artistes around the world and has shared the stage with many of them.
His second and long-awaited reggae CD was released in 2005.