Anthea McGibbon, Staff Reporter
Cleve 'Stitchie' Laing.
A WARM embrace from some 100 persons (family, friends, fans) engulfed Cleve "Stitchie" Laing at the launch of his latest album - his first ever in gospel. And for Stitchie nothing thrilled more than the opportunity to share the "Real Power" deposited in him within the past few years.
Unlike other former secular entertainers, Stitchie sought more than shelter under the umbrella of the Glad Tidings Open Bible Church from 'worldly inspirations'. For the past four years he has been groomed by Rev. Cedrick Lue, and, according to the modest mentor, Cleve in this time has remained very upbeat, steady and enthusiastic about doing whatever he could for the Lord. During the interim period since committing his life to Christianity, Stitchie has faced many challenges, financially and spiritually, but "every time he was invited to sing he would spend equal time before or after (singing) to share his testimonies". According to Rev Lue, Stitchie's lifestyle and lyrics have been changed by his new commitment, and, now he has made 'a fantastic step forward'. The CD, he says, is a good promotional tool to take the maturing artiste who has spent quality time being taught, groomed and mentored (in the ways of God), worldwide.
Now a changed Stitchie returns to offer a most fitting tool, an enhanced compact disc (CD), for anyone determined to explore and to lead a successful Christian life.
According to Mark Mohr, president of Lion of Zion Entertainment, "the CD is revolutionary". "Usually," he says, "enhanced CDs offer an artiste's biography and a photograph, this CD is one of a kind offering the features it does."
In a jovial mood, Scott Wheland, vice-president, Lion of Zion Entertainment, joined Mr. Mohr at the launch in explaining the features of the CD, primarily designed for PC systems.
After downloading the software the features accessed through an 8-point compass are:
- a choice of screen savers e.g. the Holy Land
- artiste biography
- audio and visual CD player with visual scrolling words and with various Stitchie poses
- e-book offering the song's lyrics in Patois and English
- Bible browser with translations in four languages and theme searches eg. faith, discipline, anger
- daily devotional programme study guide, reading guide and, most importantly, a guide on the road to salvation.
In launching the CD, a "brooding" Portia Simpson Miller, Minister of Tourism and Sport, described the artiste she admired from his earlier days in secular music as one of the most original and accomplished deejays.
Remembering Stitchie as being number one then, as a result of his superb teaching skills, the minister welcomed back the artiste as "one of our evergreen plants returning as fresh as ever with his distinctive style".
The artiste was also described as one among the few who could "feed our spirits".
Is this the future of the local gospel industry? Sam Wisdom says "most definitely". "I think it is a very welcome addition to the gospel music industry, lifting up the standards a step higher. The launch is different from others...not long, but effective".
Two other leaders in gospel sales, Tommy Cowan and Dale Flynn, also commented.
Tommy Cowan said he was proud of it being an enhanced CD as "it takes a lot of patience, and respect for the works, for one to put it together such as that ... it helps to put gospel music on the pedestal it so richly deserves". Tommy expects great things from the deejay he says "is on fire for the Lord". Dale Flynn identified three main principles he feels will keep Stitchie successful and a model to artistes of the US, Caribbean and Jamaica - discipline, stick-to-itivity and staying focused.
Long-time entertainer Papa San, echoed the high expectations of Tommy Cowan, and described the CD as "a good and inspiring blessing". Close friend to Stitchie for over 10 years, Laurel Service, was awed as she eulogised: "He is excellent, I didn't know that it (the CD) was this enormous. I expect this album will bring sinners to Christ". Of Stitchie she says, "He has gone through a lot of trials and tribulations, but he has worked with a background group and I believe God will be glorified".
One highlight at the launch was a video clip, summarising Stitchie's life from his humble beginnings, through his transformation, to his life today. The deejay who often poked fun while teaching through the lyrical content of his songs about Jamaican life (with songs such as "Wear yuh size") bore the brunt of much laughter during this video.
The food, though tasty, was no competition to the three-course meal served up by Stitchie when it was his turn to deliver.
With his selections from the CD, the patrons were like putty in his hands. As he jumped with a new purpose, sometimes as high as two and a half feet, the artiste had the audience switching moods and positions, with a sombre "Thank You Lord" to an army readied to combat sin with "War". With "Shopping" he delivered two "boxes of patience".
And in true Cleve Laing "Stitchie" style the vibrant artiste commanded more than attention from his classroom of patrons. It seemed many graduated from the Pegasus with lighter hearts, having learnt their lessons in "More prayer, Holy Ghost fire needed".
According to Stitchie, the CD took long to be made and, being the perfectionist he is, he aimed for a 'launch with a difference'. "It's not about the money, it's about winning souls," Stitchie says.
Among the special guests were Mrs. Vanessa Mohr, Glacia Robinson, Winston Bell, Carlene Davis, Fae Ellington.
The CD is being distributed by the Brick Wall Distribution, owned by Bobby Digital.