The Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir

The Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir has its origins in the creation of the very first Mass Choir which was established as part of the inaugural Barbados Gospelfest staged in 1993. The original choir was directed by Mr. Sam Taitt with assistance from Mr. Shelton Perkins, who after 1994 took over the full responsibility of directing the choir. In those early years there were many more Gospel choirs functioning in Barbados and, therefore, the concept of a Barbados Mass choir was practical.

This choir primarily functioned at the events of Barbados Gospelfest with one notable exception — when it turned out in support of the BBC Songs of Praise programme which was recorded live at Accra Beach Barbados. It was directly after this live recording for the BBC that Adrian Agard had the idea to utilize the songs which were performed, along with some other popular choir songs, to create the first full-length album recording which was done at the River Road New Testament Church of God. One of the notable songs in that recording was the collaboration with the legendary Joseph Niles, creating a vibrant choir-backed rendition of some of his most popular songs. This recording still holds its own as a quality local product which continues to enjoy regular airplay.

Among the notable members of the choir in those early days were Paula Hinds, Leary Nurse and Mya Daniel. As the Gospel music scene changed in Barbados there was a clear lessening of activity involving choirs. The decision was taken to change the name of the choir to the Barbados Gospelfest Mass Choir. By this time Shelton Perkins had moved on and his under study, current Musical Director Lester Welch, took over the responsibility of directing the choir.

The choir, and persons drawn from the choir have provided support for such noted artistes as Tramaine Hawkins, Alvin Slaughter and Stephen Hurd, and have opened for most of the major acts visiting Barbados Gospelfest festival over its 18-year existence.

The choir is currently made up of persons who have reached pensionable age and who have been with it from its inception, as well as many others who are of school age who were not even born in the early years of the festival. They come together to make up a vibrant exciting enthusiastic group who just love every opportunity to praise God. This year, they will create a first for a choir at the festival -- a live video and audio recording.