History

Barbados Gospelfest was established in 1993 by what was then known as the Barbados Tourist Board. The festival was the brainchild of the then Minister of Tourism Wes Hall, now Rev. Wes Hall, and the first event was a joint production between the Barbados Tourist Board and Mr. Alvin Jones of the USA. The parties brought Dr. Bobby Jones of Bobby Jones Gospel on board and this arrangement gave the festival and Barbados exposure to the international gospel community through its airing on Dr. Jones’ television program on Black Entertainment Television (BET).

From its inception top international Gospel artistes participated in the festival. These included, Dorothy Norwood, James Moore, Ben Tankard, Douglas Miller and then emerging artistes, Yolanda Adams and Kirk Franklin.

In 1995 the responsibility for the production of the festival was passed on to the Gospelfest Organising Committee made up of persons from the Christian community who had been involved in the planning for the first two years. The committee was chaired by Barbadian event manager, Adrian Agard. In 2003 Gospelfest (Barbados) Inc. was incorporated to carry on the management of the festival.

While maintaining the mandate of attracting visitors to the island, consistent efforts were made to ground Barbados Gospelfest as a Barbadian/Caribbean festival with an international appeal, incorporating and reflecting strong elements of the cultural reality of the Caribbean. This was done by ensuring that local and regional artistes participated and shared the stage with the international acts.

Opportunities were also given for the exposure and development of a wider range of artistic expression including dance and mime.

The international nature of the festival has been characterised by the scope of participation with artistes being drawn from Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, US Virgin Islands, the French island of Martinique, and the USA among others.

Leading exponents of Barbadian Gospel music such as Joseph Niles, Sis. Magarita Marshall, Promise, Tony Lowe, The Miracles and Gratitude have graced the Gospelfest stage and contributed to the success of the festival, while venues such as Farley Hill National Park (first used in 2004), the Jackie Opel Amphitheatre, and Heroes Square have added a unquie caché to the festival, branding it as distinctly Barbadian.

Over the years the list of international and regional artistes has been impressive. Leading Gospel artistes such as Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, Alvin Slaughter, Tramaine Hawkins, Candi Staton, Harrella Goodwin, the late Ras Shorty I of Trinidad & Tobago, Richard Smallwood & Vision, Keith Staten, and Shine the Light have all left their imprint on the festival which has emerged as “the Caribbean’s Premier Gospel Festival.”

2016 Sinach (Nigeria) Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy , Akintunde, Chinnitta Morris, Workshop - Neicy Tribbett (USA) A’Leithia Sweeting (Bahamas) J Prince, Positive (Trinidad & Tobago) Kim Arthur Theo Bessem, Revival Time Men’s Choir (Canada) Annastasia Baker (UK) Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir, Neesha Woodz, Sirrah, Gozzy, John Yarde, MC ‘s - Imran Richards & Mark Harewood, DJ Pedro G (Barbados)
2015 Israel and New Breed, Akintunde, Cornell Germaine, Curtis Haywood (USA), Positive, Sherwin Gardiner (Trinidad and Tobago) Esther Farinde, Ekklisia (UK), Kreyol Gospel Parts (Martinique), Gershwin Lake & Parables (Anguilla), Flow, Called Out, Bridget Blucher (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir, Promise, Neesha Woodz, Philip St. Hill, MC ‘s - Imran Richards & Mark Harewood, DJ Pedro G (Barbados)
2014 Hezekiah Walker , Tye Tribbett , Damita Haddon , Rod Z, Curtis Haywood, Danielle Rene (USA) Marvia Providence, Revival Time Men’s Choir (Canada) Sherwin Gardner (Trinidad and Tobago), Shezekiel, Annastasia Baker (UK), Total Praise, Ay’ Di Gospel Unity (Martinique) Called Out (St. Vincent & The Grenadines) Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir, Nicovia & Larix, John Yarde, Sirrah, MC ‘s - Imran Richards & Mark Harewood, DJ Pedro G (Barbados)
2013 Nicole C. Mullen (USA), Canton Jones (USA), Mali Music (USA) , Kay Morris (Canada), Atta Boafo (Ghana), John Yarde (Barbados), Junior Tucker (Jamaica), Romaro Greaves (Barbados), Dave Brown (Canada), Bridget Blucher (St. Vincent & the Grenadines) A Few Good Men (Barbados) John Yarde (Barbados) Kay Morris (Canada), Neesha Woodz (Barbados) Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir, Boma Diri (UK) Chinnitta “Chocolate” Morris (USA)
2012 Tye Tribbett (USA), Larnelle Harris (USA), DJ Nicholas (Jamaica), The Grace Thrillers (Jamaica), Eric Darius (USA) Small Fire (USA), Marvia Providence (Canada), Rob Evans "The Donut Man" (USA), Sis. Margrita Marshall (Barbados), Promise (Barbados), A Few Good Men (Barbados), Divine Divine (UK), Shepherdess Connie Brown (USA), Doreen Vail (USA), Soul Winners (Barbados), Issachar ARTS Ministry (Barbados), Liam "Teknique" Rehman (Canada), Greg "Dunamis" Grant (Jamaica)
2011 William McDowell (USA)  VaShawn Mitchell (USA), Michelle Mckinney Hammond,(USA)  Rod Z (USA) , Doreen Vail (USA), Kevin Downswell (Jamaica), A few Good Men (Barbados) Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir, Trenacia Esseboom (Guyana) Ekklesia (UK), Curtis Jordan (Trinidad & Tobago), Positive (Trinidad & Tobago), John Tillery, (USA) Hoszia Hinds (Barbados), Kings Ministries (UK)
2010 Antonio Allen, Willie Brown & Woody, John Tillery (USA), Praise With Steel (UK) YUNG Saintz and Norwill Simmonds (Canada) Sista Michelle (Jamaica/Miami) Nigela Garraway & Divine Tone & Linda Berthier (St. Lucia), Shine the Light (St. Croix USVI) Joel Daniel and Brotherz of Destiny (Dominica) CYI, Broadway Boys, Burton Sisters and Sons of Zion (Trinidad & Tobago), Kevin Downswell & Papa San (Jamaica), Gospelfest Mass Choir, Kellie Cadogan, Shane Forester and Neil Crichlow (Barbados)
2009 Alvin Slaughter, Ian Pitter, Kay Morris, Prodigal Son, Sis. Margrita Marshall, Mel Holder, Roger Samuels, Shirleyann Cyril-Mayers, Rod Z, Hoszia Hinds, Mya Daniel, Comedian Stephon, Shepherd
2008 Israel and New Breed, Jason Mighty, Bridget Blucher, Praise Academy New Era, Shekinah Glory Ministry, Elan Trotman, RodZ, Horace B. Saunders, Akintunde, Shirleyann Cyril-Mayers,Lloyd Thomas (Lytie), Ryan Mark & Crissy D,  Gozzy,  Mr. Militant, Cynthia Musson
2007 Martha Munizzi, Canton Jones, Samantha Clarke, Isaac Blackman, Stitchie,  Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, Jason Mighty, Alan Charles, Sharon St. Louis, Elan Trotman,  Amy Cooley
2006 Stitchie (Jamaica), Don Moen(USA), Papa San(Jamaica), Shekinah Glory Ministry(USA), Canton Jones (US); IDMC (UK);Blessed Voices (UK);Bishop Wayne Malcolm (UK);

Alesia McCrary (USA), Praise Academy of Dance Barbados Cornerstone, KDB,   Dwight Crawford,  Allison Norville-Forde,   Promise, Inspired,  Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir,

2005 Dr. Helen Baylor (USA) Junior Tucker (Miami) Bridget Blucher (Miami) Marvia Providence (Canada) APC Voices (Canada) CIE (UK) Siani(UK) The Witness (UK) Gospelfest Mass Choir (Barbados) Danah (Barbados)
2004 Israel & New Breed, Deitrick Haddon, Papa San, Sisters of One, Gospelfest Mass Choir, Minister Stephen Hurd, Gospelfest Dancers, Sisters of One, Instruments of Prayze, Promise, Mr. Goddy Goddy, Neil Crichlow
2003 Bubby Fann & Unlimited Praise (New Jersey USA) - Peggy Britt (Virginia Beach Virginia USA) - Lisa Kempt (Florida USA) - Bridgett Blucher (New York) Elan Trotman - Saxophonist - Magrita Marshall & The Gospelfest Mass Choir (Barbados)
2002 Kurt Carr & Kurt Carr Singers, Alvin Slaughter, Donnie McClurkin, and Chevelle Franklyn
2001 Kirk Franklin & 1 NC, Helen Baylor, Trin-I-tee 5:7, National Wesleyan Choir (Washington DC) (USA) Stichie (Jamaica)
2000 Noel Richards of the United Kingdom, Shine the Light of St. Croix US Virgin Islands, Claire Jean- Charles of Canada, Carlene Davis of Jamaica and Alvin Slaughter of the US.
1999 Alvin Slaughter (USA), Keith Staten, and Richard Smallwood and Vision of the USA
1998 John Starnes & Alvin Slaughter (USA) and Ras Shorty I and the Love Circle (TT).
1997 Candi Staton (USA), Rev. Gwendolyn Coates, Change of Jamaica, Barbados Mass Choir.
1996 Calvin Bernard Rhone of the USA. Canadian Choir, Barbados Mass Choir
1995 Tramaine Hawkins, Jeff White of New York, (USA) Errol Lewis and Renaissance of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbadian Canadian Sandra Sandiford -Bryan, Denise Ogbede (England), Barbados Mass Choir.
1994 Kirk Franklin, Douglas Miller, Dorothy Norwood, Speaker: Rev. Dr. Bernice King, Nicole Ballosing (TT), Harella Goodwin (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands), Yolanda Adams, Ben Tankard (USA), UK Choir, Barbados Mass Choir.
1993 Dr. Bobby Jones, Douglas Miller, James Moore and Stephen Whiley (USA), Joseph Niles, Promise, Tony Lowe, Barbados Mass Choir.