Footloose and Ready to Shake

0

Nseobong Okon-Ekong reports that the Trinity House organised 24-hour Praise Concert retained an infectious vivacity, enabling members of the church and the visitors to celebrate

On a good day, the gathering of Christian worshippers is the right place to find a lot of energy. This burst of vitality is always present in a regular church service. We recently witnessed a congregation of believers that offered a better deal than a fixed session. But we know that the best day is yet to come.

Only in its second year, the 24-Hour Praise concert, ran on the theme, ‘Power of Praise’.

You may be forgiven if you haboured reservations about how the organisers, Pastor Ituah and Ibidunni Ighodalo-led Trinity House were going to retain vivacity in the assembly for 24 hours. With the help of the church’s Music Minister, Tosin Alao, it turned out that all members of the church and the visitors came there to celebrate. The rejoicing was authentic and infectious. Even if you arrived downcast, it did not take long to feel comfortable, at first, and soon join the jubilation.

A huge improvement on the maiden edition, there is still a lot of room for indulgence for the music ministers and even the participants. In a few years, the attendees will struggle for a space to stand and the minstrels will regard it a huge honour to be on the Trinity House 24-Hour Praise stage.

Managing close to 30 artistes is a tough assignment by any standard, but Alao and his team made it a great experience for everyone. Though the atmosphere was supposed to be filled with praise and worship, no doubt the liberty of choice was still at play. Obviously, a long distance train, the Trinity House 24-hour Praise Concert had attendees who came on board and dropped off at any time of the marathon voyage. The artiste themselves observed no less a loose regime of appearance. Since no particular order of appearance was pre-announced, the best option to catch your favourite artiste on the bill was to be there from the beginning.

This may be tasking for many on a Saturday, with other compelling social and family engagements competing for attention. A good guide to enjoying the best of #pop24 is the established pattern that the concert starts at Midday on the first Saturday of November and rolls into the church’s monthly Thanksgiving Sunday, the next day. If you choose to answer the call to family and friends’ social events earlier in the day, there would still be ample time to participate.

It was early evening when I arrived. Kleb with some members of The Harvesters Church Choir was on stage. I was still trying to settle down. But he engaged my attention by managing some songs in Ibibio/Efik. With the 24-hour Praise concert, Trinity House has created a mega platform of exposition for its in-house choral and musical talents, enabling them to grow in confidence and hone their skills. In a couple of years, chart-topping gospel artistes will gain wide recognition courtesy of this humble beginning. A few of them including Debbi Olatunji, Omowale John and Alabba were on showcase.

It’s not easy to find a great experience as was created at the Trinity House 24-Hour Praise. The atmosphere was genuinely charged with an air of positivity. Many stood with their hands held high in the air, when Minister Chigozie sang Jonathan David and Melissa’s popular anthem, ‘No Longer A Slave’. His rendition of ‘No One Can Do the Things You Do’ commanded so much reverence.

One of the most celebrated artiste of the night was Tope Alabi. Her ensemble of four percussionists, one bassist, one lead guitarist, four female back-up singers and a keyboardist maintained a steady beat on which she rode to render all her songs. Whether it was ‘Oluwa E Tobi’, her song which has become a popular chorus or the spontaneous creation, ‘Stand Up for the King of Kings’ in which she sampled the common song, ‘Stand Up for the Champion’ by British Band, Right Said Fred, the singing kept everyone happy. She was able to secure participation of the audience. You couldn’t sit down, even if you wanted. Persuaded to return for an encore, Alabi hit the crowd with her hit tune, ‘E Gbega, E Gbega’. The involvement of the people with Tope Alabi took a new turn when she gave a new interpretation to the prevalent ‘Shaku Shaku’ dance. According to her, the dance can be found in the Bible and it was first performed by David. She said the dance should be rightly called ‘Segun Segun’ (Dance of Victory and not ‘Shaku Shaku’, which refers to remnants and wastes).

No one could feel like an outsider as Empraiz came on stage. Advertised as one from Port Harcourt with the Niger Delta flavour, he ended up singing more songs in Yoruba and Igbo. This situation was remedied by King Ehiz who took the microphone after midnight and dished out a lot of Niger Delta choruses, while balancing his presentation with a good dose of praise and worship. He made up for the previous promise which was not delivered by Empraiz.

Ibitayo Jeje, better known as the Highlife Queen gave an excellent account of herself. Her performance was reminiscent of the well-known juju music exponent, Chief Ebenezer Obey. She had a powerful horns section that wailed with a longing blast.

It was my first time in Trinity House and I observed that a teeming number of the less privileged who constitute an important part of people supported by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo and his wife, Ibidunni were also part of the feel-good experience. It was really emotional to see these individuals jumping and mingling with everyone else. As people were allowed to have their refreshment in the church auditorium, it was noteworthy also to see house keepers, busy cleaning and picking up trash, as they also kept the conveniences spick and span.

From one artiste to another, the unique songs and dance continued. Mercy Chinwo and team delivered a powerful ministration. Tears ran down a few cheeks when sang her current hit, ‘Excess Love’. For his size, Big Bolaji exhibited amazing dance moves across the stage. BJ Sax displayed a different kind of capability, drawing the audience to sing along to every tune he performed on the wind instrument. Arguably, the biggest surprise of the night was Yinka Alaseyori who gave a wonderful testimony of how God answered her prayers for a baby, after a long wait. She was on stage for over two hours. She was rewarded with a cheque for an undisclosed amount for the long duration of her performance another cheque for her baby.

An energetic Laolu Gbenjo took over as fresh faces arrived for the last lap of the concert on Sunday morning. The organisers kept the renowned Mrs. Deborah Adebola Fasoyin and the Good Women Choir a worthwhile secret. One of their best known songs, ‘Odun Nlo Sopin’ which was released over 30 years ago to popular acclaim, was given a new verve at the concert. Another stirring performance was enacted by Psalmos. Tim Godfrey, who announced that he was recently awarded a Ph.D by an American university was visibly moved by the good response of the crowd. Before singing the hit, ‘Nara’, he recounted some of highlights of his grass to grace story-a former bus conductor who now buys vehicles for people!

I left a few minutes to Midday and the end of the concert when Eben was performing. On my way out, I reflected on the many times I had been in that vicinity to participate in secular music concerts at Landmark Event Centre and Hard Rock Café. I had just been to a beautiful sanctuary that enriched me with a memorable experience, never to be forgotten. The many compositions praising God were still ringing in my head on my way home.