There is a big difference between what Angels do and what artistes at Adom Praiz did. Angels just sing. But at Adom Praiz musical mortals performed. And that is why I suspect the men in white upstairs were glad it was over. Because Kirk Franklin, Cecilia Marfo, Cwesi Oteng, No Tribe and Cece Twum proved that angels must be doing an inferior job worshipping God.
On Saturday 5:00pm a thick crowd streamed into the 14-000 seater Perez Dome at the Dzorwulu junction. You could not help noticing their similarity with packed logs of firewood – or the lining up of highly inflammable LPG trucks at TOR. The slightest spark would set off an inferno of ‘holy ghost fire.
They knew why they had come. They knew what they would get. It was like an unwritten partnership of trust between the audience and Adom Praiz team – a secured knowingness that we were in the right place.
The Perez Dome was not full. No. It was under siege. In my earlier feature I mentioned how the 14,000 seater Perez Dome was looking for a challenge. The Dome lost quickly by 7:30pm. A pregnant woman struggled with a politician over one ticket. And a lecturer was in no mood to be chivalrous to an old lady who wanted to enter. You needed a ticket for Adom Praiz but it was becoming clearer that you needed grace too.
And while this cold war for ticket and grace went on outside, Cece Twum had began the show inside. She was not really on the bill, but clearly that would have been our loss not hers.
Her voice was silky. It was really much like a white linen covering neatly tucked into the four corners of a bed for Saturday inspection.
It was soft and floated tenderly into the deep seats higher up the pavilion. She stood on a highly technological platform under about 24 overhead lights and cameras staring helplessly at every performer and performance.
And when she sang “Se wo hunu se me ko menimaa na efre Nyame” (meaning any progress I make is due to God). It struck a deep affinity with the audience and they showed it by joining instinctively into one beautiful but unplanned orchestra.
If you want to court the loudest response at any gospel performance, just tap into Ghananian fixation to prophetic utterances- and inject it into your act. Ohemaa Mercy knew this.
Her act was a mixture of prophetic murder of all spiritual enemies, at work and at home. It was a bad time to be a demon around the Dome.
The 14,000 audience in unison turned to the left, right and roundabout shouting “Jesus” as the lethal weapon for the unexpected late night raid against evil forces. The “Edin Jesus” song did the trick.
But she was not finished. We had to do christo-aerobic exercises which involved lifting the knee to the left to receive prophesied marriages a year by this time. If you wanted a new car, job or six-digit salary, you had to lift the knee to the right. So you choose.
She was commandeering. And a dissatisfied “aaaahhhhhhhh” that signed off her act. I suspect the audience appeared interested in one more prediction- maybe a prophetic ruling on the Presidential Election Petition.
The African gospel award nominee for six categories, substituted Ohemaa Mercy. It was a super-sub. The architecture of the Dome did not want to be left out. It shook in approval. The choir masters in heaven must have felt threatened. Cwesi Oteng put their job on the line.
Cecilia Marfo changed the mood like a Multi TV channel. A flood of sober worship washed throughout the auditorium. Beautiful young ladies soiled their make-up with tears in careless abandon. Prayers rumbled off several lips. Of course, women show their attachment to God faster than stiff men. Prayer rose up like incense. God must have felt loved.
The physical effect of a worshipful act from Cecilia marfo was that energy was stored for another animated act from the tribe-less duo “No Tribe”. Na Cee made the stage his own. He shone in his golden attire like an Arabia prince sitting on tonnes of royal oil.
A long pause signaled the imminent performance. Lights went out. Lungs were arming themselves with vital oxygen because in one blistering second, an awesome scream greeted Kirk Franklin and his team as they pounced on the stage. And he must have taken a cue from Ohemaa Mercy.
He did not prophesy but in a typical American fashion he exhorted us intermittently during songs like “Imagine M”’and “Something about the name Jesus”. He said Ghanaians should not worry about a tough summer- he had no idea we were going through fire-outbreaks in the rainy season and a suspected arsonist presumably on the loose.
In the midst of his songs, he asked everybody to say to the person seated next ‘I love you’ and you can imagine us. Guys fired off proposals to the next lady and the ladies mouthed the beautiful words to another guy in a plethora of proposals that had an expiration date with the superstar’s performance. And if you were flanked by the same sex you ought to say it with emphasis that no gay was intended.
One of the striking things about Kirk Franklin’s performance was his legendary energy. At 40 plus, he danced like mincemeat on a chopping board.
And perhaps taking a cue from his confidence, some daring young men joined him on stage uninvited and it paid off – they got on the stage shots with the man himself when organizers had planned a special privileged session to do that after the program.
It was at the peak of his performance, that he stood on the very edge of the stage, opened up his arms wide and pronounced his sentence on the five hour program, “I have traveled all across Africa but this is the best”.
The audience fired off one last screaming outburst of energy like sightless Samson’s last strike on his enemies. They knew he was right.
And yes he would be – but for Adom Praiz Team, he would be right for just 12 months as Adom Praiz 2014 lingers behind for another record-breaking festival.