Categorized | Local, News, Opinions

Ayanna Irish, a youth with talent encouraged, like some others

by David Edgecombe

It’s not just idle talk, there really is no place like home. Home shapes you, makes you, lays the foundation for whatever else is built for the rest of your life.

I love the emerald greenness and the mangoes of Montserrat more than everything else. When I arrived for my niece’s wedding on Thursday, I find the hills lush and verdant and we drive on a carpet of mangoes almost from the airport to my sister’s home in Olveston. On the car radio, Ayanna Irish is being interviewed. She is the guest artist at the gospel concert sponsored by the Annual Calabash Festival starting in about half an hour.

I persuaded my sister Florence Daley to take me and we arrive half an hour late, but well ahead of the main act. It’s a typical scenario straight from the home that shaped me. I’m delighted it’s still here, volcano with its gross disruptions notwithstanding.

It’s mid-week, but the church is packed with an eager, supportive audience. The performers are talented but not polished. Some bad notes are struck. Some veer off key. The sound messes up. But, judging from the response of the audience, no performer could ever guess he or she is less than perfect. Each act is given wild enthusiastic applause.

You may argue this does not help the performers to improve. I’ll tell you what it does. It drastically reduces, if not removes, the fear of performing and by continuing to perform, most performers will get better. Those without talent will certainly fall away, but they’re not going to be openly discouraged or pushed out. Not by any church in Montserrat.

And indeed, some of the performances are good, notably young David Mendez singing two songs, one in English, the other in Spanish, and the James Family featuring  Glasford James on saxophone for one rendition.

This is the scene into which featured artist Ayanna Irish steps. She is returning to her spawning pond, her early nurturing ground. Dressed in a simple, skin-fitting white dress she is radiant as is her smile. She reaches out, embracing her audience as they embrace her back. Before the end of her first song, “It is Well With My Soul”, her audience is on its feet giving her a standing ovation.

This is an amazing display of local talent polished to a sheen, sharpened by exposure, confident and ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best in the world.

The only rotten part of the concert is that Ayanna sings a total of only four songs. And that’s not nearly enough. I’m thinking of some of my favorite gospel songs I know she could sing the dickens out of and could barely retrain myself from shouting give us “Peace Be Still”, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, “I Come to the Garden Alone!”

Mrs. Florence Griffith Joseph tries to bring the concert to a close but the applause doesn’t end until Ayanna gives up another song, the first she ever wrote. She sings it a cappella because she doesn’t have the tracks and the piano is not in a good spot. The song is pretty. It shows off her beautiful voice, its range. It leaves her audience wanting even more. The applause is endless.

I hear talk of bringing her back for next year’s concert. This needs to be more than just talk.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by David Edgecombe

It’s not just idle talk, there really is no place like home. Home shapes you, makes you, lays the foundation for whatever else is built for the rest of your life.

I love the emerald greenness and the mangoes of Montserrat more than everything else. When I arrived for my niece’s wedding on Thursday, I find the hills lush and verdant and we drive on a carpet of mangoes almost from the airport to my sister’s home in Olveston. On the car radio, Ayanna Irish is being interviewed. She is the guest artist at the gospel concert sponsored by the Annual Calabash Festival starting in about half an hour.

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I persuaded my sister Florence Daley to take me and we arrive half an hour late, but well ahead of the main act. It’s a typical scenario straight from the home that shaped me. I’m delighted it’s still here, volcano with its gross disruptions notwithstanding.

It’s mid-week, but the church is packed with an eager, supportive audience. The performers are talented but not polished. Some bad notes are struck. Some veer off key. The sound messes up. But, judging from the response of the audience, no performer could ever guess he or she is less than perfect. Each act is given wild enthusiastic applause.

You may argue this does not help the performers to improve. I’ll tell you what it does. It drastically reduces, if not removes, the fear of performing and by continuing to perform, most performers will get better. Those without talent will certainly fall away, but they’re not going to be openly discouraged or pushed out. Not by any church in Montserrat.

And indeed, some of the performances are good, notably young David Mendez singing two songs, one in English, the other in Spanish, and the James Family featuring  Glasford James on saxophone for one rendition.

This is the scene into which featured artist Ayanna Irish steps. She is returning to her spawning pond, her early nurturing ground. Dressed in a simple, skin-fitting white dress she is radiant as is her smile. She reaches out, embracing her audience as they embrace her back. Before the end of her first song, “It is Well With My Soul”, her audience is on its feet giving her a standing ovation.

This is an amazing display of local talent polished to a sheen, sharpened by exposure, confident and ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best in the world.

The only rotten part of the concert is that Ayanna sings a total of only four songs. And that’s not nearly enough. I’m thinking of some of my favorite gospel songs I know she could sing the dickens out of and could barely retrain myself from shouting give us “Peace Be Still”, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, “I Come to the Garden Alone!”

Mrs. Florence Griffith Joseph tries to bring the concert to a close but the applause doesn’t end until Ayanna gives up another song, the first she ever wrote. She sings it a cappella because she doesn’t have the tracks and the piano is not in a good spot. The song is pretty. It shows off her beautiful voice, its range. It leaves her audience wanting even more. The applause is endless.

I hear talk of bringing her back for next year’s concert. This needs to be more than just talk.