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Gospel artiste delivers stellar performance at debut concert
Move over Yolanda Adams and Tasha Cobbs! Yes, we know in the Kingdom we are not here to compete but complete and each joint supply. But my goodness…gracious me; the voice on Genisa “Nisa” St Hillaire is awe-striking. Blame it on the anointing or something, but one cannot explain how that powerful, enthralling and flawless voice comes up and out of this petite and otherwise reserved mother of one.
The Rush Night Club in Tacarigua was transformed into a gospel hall earlier this month, where St Hillaire staged The Esther Affair—her first ever full-length concert. No one was able to stay in their seats, at least not after her voice commanded you to move. Hands were lifted and voices echoed throughout the venue shouting “Sing girl!”
St Hillaire belted out songs, some originals and others covers, but all the same, with each delivery the crowd was more inspired than the moment before.
With her signature big-haired style, custom-made and fitted black three-pieced suit finished with a crown and some fierce black pumps, St Hillaire was particularly reminiscent of American R&B and Jazz veteran Chaka Khan.
St Hillaire is at that level and can easily share the stage with any Grammy-Award winner any day. In fact it’s a shame the international world does not know of this amazing vocalist who by the way, unbelievably never had formal training.
Through original pieces like Jesus, A Different Kind of Me and ‘Beddur,’ St Hillaire poured out the testimonies of the goodness of God in her life thanking Him for giving her joy for her sorrows.
She took the audience to her hiding place of worship with the gospel oldie Hiding Place and admitted Jesus was her only answer through the cover version of Tamala Mann’s Take Me to the King.
She lifted the tempo soon after giving her supporters some ‘gospelypso’ with her 2017 hit Market Place, which earned her the sixth position at the National Calypso Queen Competition, being the first and only female gospel artiste to enter and make it to the finals.
St Hilllaire became discreetly emotional when her teenage son Jaiden, joined her onstage to perform a duet of the song A Different Kind of Me, penned by gospel radio personality Junior Lett.
She told the T&T Guardian: “Sharing the stage with my son is always an almost out-of-body exhilarating experience. I say out of body, because to this day a big part of me still hasn’t grasped the reality of me having a kid.”
The supporting talents that preceded St Hillaire’s performance were equally satisfying. One was taken aback by the incredible talent in the gospel world. The voices…the band...For a second, one would have thought to be present on the American BET show Bobby Jones Gospel, with even greater ministers. And the fact that every talent was 100 per cent local proves that T&T can produce total local shows and not always look towards the international world or wait on a Sinach or a Travis Green to have a good gospel concert.
In a subsequent interview, St Hillaire told the T&T Guardian, she was inspired to do the concert by her manger and life partner, singer/ songwriter Jerry “Jadee” Sellier.
“It was a personal goal he was encouraging me to meet as he is always pushing me to do better. He said this year I had to do my first show.”
Admitting at first she got butterflies in her belly to actually put on a concert but after four and a half months of planning the event, she became more confident and the concert, The Esther Affair became a reality.
The concert’s title—The Esther Affair was really opening up and sharing with the gospel fraternity publicly now, what St Hillaire found to be her intimate victory over the dark days in her life as a Christian.
“We themed it The Esther Affair, The Queen is Coming, in an effort to display parts of the story from the bible. Esther was a Jew, not highly esteemed, however she became queen and experienced much love and respect from her king, ultimately leading in her instrumental role in saving her people from a decree of death. I chose to focus on my journey. The story of my divorce rocked the gospel fraternity. It almost crippled my career and left me in a rot of depression for a long time. But Jesus healed me and delivered me and fought my battles for me. It was a struggle but by His grace my head was kept above the water and today He has indeed made me ‘beddur,” said St Hillaire through laughter.
The curtains came down on the Esther Affair after five hours of back to back testimonies in song. St Hillaire took the people home with her latest hit Fall For You, which gained major support on both gospel and secular radio frequencies since released.
She says get ready for part two next year, but for now, she’s got her eyes set on Tobago Jazz 2018, where she believes by faith, she will be the first gospel singer to be billed an official act at the auspicious event.