Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett,??addressing Barbados Gospelfest’s Awesome 2010 Kick-Off ceremony in Jubilee Gardens last Saturday. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

A Government Minister has underscored the importance of preserving the island’s moral standards as a means of instituting "checks and balances" in the lives of the youth.

Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, made this observation recently, while addressing Barbados Gospelfest’s Awesome 2010 Kick-Off ceremony in Jubilee Gardens, the City.

Noting that the event was also critical to the island’s positive cultural development, he declared: "Gospelfest provides the opportunity for Barbadians to celebrate their religious freedom, secure in the knowledge, that they can do so without the fear of persecution and victimisation."??

Describing Gospelfest as one of the "Magnificent Seven" festivals in Barbados, Mr. Blackett stressed that the religious freedom which National Hero, Sarah-Ann Gill, fought valiantly to achieve for the slave population during the 1800’s, must be preserved.

The Minister also appealed for a return to choral singing -which is widespread in Africa. "I want to take this opportunity to remind Barbadians of the long tradition of choral singing which we have.?? We only have to look at the wonderful choirs which exist in the various countries of Africa, like the Soweto Gospel Choir of South Africa, for example, to see from whence our tradition came," Mr. Blackett noted.

Meanwhile, Executive Producer of Gospelfest, Adrian Agard, said patrons will be treated to the melodious sounds from this year’s headliners Papa San and gospel group Shine the Light.

He further stated that despite the fallout from the global economic crisis, Gospelfest would still be awesome this year and gave the assurance that "the festival will be filled with exciting and inspiring programmes for the entire family".

Gospelfest, now in its 18th year, will be held from May 23-30.

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