06 Oct 2015

Jamaica's Carlene Davis Wins Best Gospel Award At International Reggae and World Music Awards

Jamaican gospel singer Carlene Davis is enjoying a milestone in her 40-year musical career. 

In July-August, 2015, her album Dripping Blood, climbed to the number two spot in the Reggae Billboard chart. It has been in the top 10 Reggae Billboard charts for several weeks.

The title song from this, her 25th album, and her 10th gospel record, just captured the best gospel prize at the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) in Fort Lauderdale this past weekend.

IRAWMA was established in 1982 by Ephraim Martin and its award event alternates at different cities, both in the United States and the Caribbean. The organization honors the contributions of reggae and world music artists.

Davis began her career in the secular world, wherein she earned much success with such hits as It Must Be Love, Winnie Mandela, and Stealing Love on the Side. In 1990 Davis garnered the ‘Best Female Vocalist’ title at the Caribbean Music Awards. Yet it’s only at this half-way stage of her 40-year career, (close to 20 years after her conversion to the Christian faith and stepping into the gospel music genre) that a song of hers entered the Billboard chart at such a high standing.

Many of Davis’ fans are aware of her brush with breast cancer in 1996. Davis was raised in the Christian faith and attended church in her early life. But like many in the world of entertainment, she says she got distracted by the industry. The singer says that prior to her bout with cancer she had been sitting on the fence, so to speak, with “one foot in and one foot out” of Christianity. Describing this pre-cancer period, she says, “I never applied (Jesus) as Lord of my life all the time. I didn’t allow Him to lead me in every decision I made. I wasn’t walking in the Truth – only when I became desperate!”

The disease, she admits, led her back to her Christian faith, which ultimately led her back to gospel music. From there, in close partnership with husband and manager, Tommy Cowan, Davis advanced to areas she had never imagined.

And while she says life isn’t perfect today, post-cancer, walking in her faith, she knows her higher purpose. No longer is she “an entertainer”. On stage, she uses reggae music to wrap the gospel of Jesus Christ. Off stage, everything she does points back to Him.

In 2000 Davis enjoyed a massive hit in various Caribbean countries with her song, This Island Needs Jesus. Two years later, the family enterprise, which includes her son and daughter, rolled out Fun In The Son, a Christian festival . “This multi-purpose weekend started in Ocho Rios. It was geared for college students and the tourist industry as “an alternative” for families,” according to Davis.

Essentially, the couple wanted to provide the kinds of ‘wholesome’ activities they’d want for their own children.

After about three years, they got an invitation to take the festival to Kingston, Jamaica`s capital city, and Davis says, it took off from there. Not only is the festival now done in various parts of Jamaica, endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board, but it has also been done in Haiti and New York.

Among the musical talent at previous Fun in the Son festivals has been Alvin Slaughter, Kirk Franklin and Nicole Mullen. Speakers have included the late Dr. Myles Munro, Rev. Jackie McCullough and Dr. Ron Kenoly.

Today, the festival’s success has meant that it takes place in Jamaica every other year. In 2014 there were over 200 churches and 18,000 people involved. Because it has blossomed into such a huge event, the organizers need a year of planning. However, the event still manages to reach at least as many people. It runs for three weekends over three to four days at a time.

Among the different divisions within the family enterprise are Judah Recording, a music studio, and Glory Music, a record label.

Clearly, the couple’s love for music is at the forefront of their gifts. Yet, they have used it as a base to reach into other related sectors to include God’s message in music, ministry and special events. With Cowan’s reputation in the music world (among other things he was the marketing manager for Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios and managing artists like Dennis Brown), many people seek his consultation for their music.

On a personal level, Davis is Minister of Music of a church in Kingston. In 2006, from a South Florida seminary, she earned a PHD in pastoral counselling. Although she doesn’t use the degree professionally, she says because the stage is her platform, she felt it was important to study her faith.

Looking at all the accomplishments, it’s evident that music plays a big role in the lives of Davis and her husband. But they’ve used the music to have an impact in various other areas.

For example, in 2014, they were united in their decision to donate 25% of the earnings from Davis’ Dripping Blood album, to the humanitarian agency, Samaritan's Purse.
The organization has been on the front lines in Liberia and other countries experiencing turmoil. Knowing its work, Davis says they didn`t have to think twice about how they could help, after seeing a photo of a young Liberian girl who had lost her mother to Ebola.

Dripping Blood has been in the top 10 Reggae Billboard charts for several weeks.

Read 3149 times Last modified on Tuesday, 06 October 2015 23:38
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