KINGSTON, Jamaica – Hours before she headed to Emancipation Park in Kingston with her family for Kanye West’s Sunday Service show on October 18, singer Naomi Cowan heard of a shooting incident near her office, a five-minute walk from the venue.
By that evening, her concern had given way to hope as she was in the massive crowd that watched the rapper and his gospel group turn in a mesmerizing performance.
It was enough to wash her blues away.
“All he’s doing is telling people to be fearless, telling them how to be creative,” said Cowan. “He was using contemporary sounds and R&B riffs but the message was so strong you could not help but be a part of it,” Cowan said.
Cowan was accompanied to the event by her parents, veteran artist manager/producer Tommy Cowan and his wife, singer Carlene Davis. Several Jamaican gospel singers also attended, as did Jesse Royal, a key figure in the roots-reggae revival and the country’s entertainment and culture minister, Olivia “Babsy” Grange.
The Kingston show was a pop up gig for the controversial West who recently embraced Christianity. He is currently promoting Jesus is King, his first gospel album, released in October.
Cowan has done a handful of gospel songs but made her mark in 2018 with Paradise Plum, a catchy dance track that did well on regional charts in the United States.
While her day started ominously, she credited West and his Sunday Service singers for making it worthwhile in the end.
“I had a fantastic time and I’m so full of gratitude. I really was on Cloud Nine and so thankful for life,” she said.
West has held several Sunday Service shows in the US since its launch in January. His Jamaican leg was not without incident, as Grange issued a statement ordering the rapper to stop selling merchandise bearing Jamaica’s national emblem.