When Billy and Nigel Fernando take up guitars and team up with Devashrie de Silva on vocals as an opening act to any show, there’s that inevitable expectation of something really good about to happen. But wait, if it’s only a bunch of young and relative amateurs taking the mic, does that still apply? Project Authenticity declared: yes, definitely.
Paragon Events set off on the first steps of what founder Dinesh Michel envisions will be a cultural revolution in the Sri Lankan music industry. The night of Sunday 27 November was the first of a series of events that will create a platform for gospel artists to share their original work. “The main thing we’re interested in is that these young people bring in positive ideas to society with their music” Michel explains.
Many of the original numbers performed that night were based on themes of personal struggle and also resonated with a hopeful take on ethnic reconciliation. But the greatest sense of positivity seemed to be conveyed in how children, youth and elders from a variety of linguistic, racial and ethnic backgrounds took one stage with a perfect sense of unity.
The sounds of south Indian and western pop, country, alternative, rock, hip-hop, rap and even reggae came to life on one stage that night. Darren (aka Suddha) Stork apparently “just back from Jamaica” was a definite show-stealer in his sarong and sunglasses. And then there was the the Zep 317 Crew, led by Jeremiah “Jiggy” James, block-breaking to the sounds of – get this – “Gloria in excelsis Deo”, setting the audience bopping like pros!
Project Authenticity also featured Kanishka Fernando whose single ‘Adare’ has made over 3000 hits on Elakiri.com, as well as Ruwan Hettiarachchi who’s topped 150,000 views on YouTube with ‘Mathakada Handawe’ off the Sinhawalokana soundtrack. Also taking the stage were promising musicians in Deborah Rajapakshe, Niroshan Perera, Josiah Lazarus (this one we’ve really got to see more of!) and Candida Perera. But the performers of the evening were unquestionably MCs Lakshan and Charlene who continued to pump up the pace with their “modest” and definitely not self-absorbed (who would ever dare say they’re self-absorbed!) approach to the whole act.
And what a pace it rose to! After nearly a year of relative silence, Ezra, winners of TNL Onstage 2002 (a bygone era when the show actually produced noteworthy acts) and the first Sri Lankan gospel rock band to enthral audiences with hits such as Nazarene, took on the audience as the last act for the night. Did they rock? Take your guess, and don’t miss the next episode!