TeachEnglishCaribbean shares with you another interview of a phenomenal up and coming gospel artiste, John Lucas Barrett. He began performing at the age of 5 in a children’s musical performance group, where he honed his skills in drama, singing, and dance. In December of 2007, he hosted his first solo concert, and is presently performing as a professional gospel singer in Japan. He continues to create waves in the Japanese professional music scene as he strives for excellence.
1. Where were you born and which community did you grow up?
I was born in Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas where my parents were missionaries. After my birth, my parents returned to Kingston Jamaica where I spent my childhood.
2. Which college did you attend and what did you study?
I went to Northern Caribbean University where I studied Religion and Mass Communication.
3. Where are you living now and how did you get there?
I came Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan in July 2000, as a member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.
4. What is your job in Japan?
2000-2003 Asst. Language Teacher for the Miyagi Prefectural Government
2004-2006 Tohoku University student – Intercultural Communication, MA
2004-2009 Native Coordinator (Tohoku Region), ECC Junior
2007- PRESENT: Professional Gospel Singer, Hello International (Production company).
5. Describe the projects that you have worked on.
Here are some of the projects I have been involved with:
★ Youth director for the Sendai SDA Church (5 years) – http://sda-sendai.xux.jp/
★Hallelujah Gospel Family Soloist – http://www.hgfjapan.com (10 years)
★ Numerous charity projects (please see the links below for details).
6. How do you find the Japanese and Jamaican culture similar?
★I feel both that both Jamaicans and Japanese people work hard for the ‘good life’. Everyone wants to get ahead. The actual playground is totally different, but the drive for success, I feel is similar.
★Though particularly different in content and orientation, Jamaicans and Japanese people love the arts passionately.
7. What challenges did you experience living in Japan as a man of color?
★Being a man of color has in perks and challenges in this environment. Breaking stereotypes often set by Hollywood and other types of media has been a mammoth task.
8. What are the challenges you faced in Japan while building your music career?
★To make it ahead in any industry, particularly combining ministry with entertainment in Japan, has been rather challenging. With a very small Christian population, the demand for gospel music is comparatively smaller than other forms of music. The churches support, though fervent, because we are so few in number is also limited. It has been challenging, but with each small victory, very rewarding.
9. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
★ I hope to continue my music ministry.
★ I hope that my music will be heard throughout Japan, and the rest of the world.
★ I pray that the lyrics and testimony of my music will help to create a revival, necessary to usher in Christ’s second coming.
★ I hope that the Lord will bless me so that I will be able to encourage more exchange opportunities between Jamaica and Japan; particularly for young people seeking a higher education.
★ I plan to work more closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of both countries to strengthen bilateral relations.
10. On March 11, 2011 a catastrophic earthquake hit Japan. Describe the earthquake and how you felt.
Here is an article that was written about my experience and the disaster.
希望」“Keep Hope Alive!” ～A PRAYER FOR RESTORATION～ FROM HAKODATE TO ISHINOMAKI
“Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive! No matter if the dark clouds come, Just keep hope alive! And even when the storms and trials blow, That toss you to and fro, Don’t stop believing! Keep hope alive! Just keep hope alive!””Keep hope alive!
On Saturday, March 26, 2011 John’s new song “KIBO: Keep Hope Alive”, a prayer for peace and restoration to Ishinomaki city (where several of his gospel choir members live) , resounded through the halls of the Hakodate SDA Church. Chirping birds, the sounds of a brand new day, images of people at work and at play…interrupted by a sudden quake, sounds of the tsunami, heavy breathing, and racing heartbeats. The dramatic introduction, is followed by the story of the terrible devastation, the sadness. The song also testifies of faith in God. And climaxes with the theme of the song, a message of HOPE! All present were deeply moved; moved to tears.
On March 11, 2011 John was in Sendai at the time of the earthquake. After spending a few days in a nearby shelter, he got a lift from a gentleman who lived nearby. The two, headed north, traveling the dangerous route on badly damaged roads, with not nearly enough gas for the trip. John made the miraculous journey to Hakodate in three days.
John, a member of the Sendai SDA Church, came to Japan 11 years ago from Jamaica. He ministers as a professional Gospel Singer here in Japan. His parents serve the Adventist church in Jamaica; his father a pastor and his mother a teacher. I met John three years ago at the Sendai SDA Church. We stayed in touch, and even had him visit our church to participate in our music day two years ago.
At the concert, John read a poem his mother wrote, called TSUNAMI. The poem expressed the deep worry of his mother, but even more so her strong faith and thanks to God for keeping her son safe. All eyes were wet, as the entire hall was wrapped in intense but warm emotion.
From planning to the actual concert, we had only five days. We were extremely busy, and fought against numerous odds, but with the amazing team work of all involved, we were able to put everything together just in the nick of time. Especially the accompaniment for John’s song,”KIBO” came all the way from Jamaica by email from his friend Lisa, only 30 minutes before the concert.
But in spite of all that, the hall overflowed with over 220 guests, and we collected over ￥300,000 for charity as a result.
The concert and John’s story was featured on local and national NHK TV news. The story was given a lot of attention by newspapers, and we received a lot of support from the local radio stations as well. Folk who had not been to church in years, and several first timers as well, attended the concert. This tremendous response leads us to believe that there was a higher power working throughout the entire project. We continue to praise God for the miracles He has realized through this effort.
God surpassed our expectations many times over. I pray that through God’s mercy, the message in John’s song – KIBO: Keep Hope Alive – will reach the hearts of those in need.
Hakodate SDA Church by: Fumiki Moritake (Translation: John Lucas)
To find out more About John And his projects check out the links below:
1) HP: http://www.john-lucas-barrett.com
2) BLOG: http://profile.ameba.jp/john-lucas
3) TWITTER: http://twitter.com/JohnLucasLIVE
1)3/26 – Hakodate Charity Concert REPORT
a) NHK TV FEATURE (JAPANESE TV NEWS)
b) NHK World Radio (ENGLISH BROADCAST)
April 9, Saturday Weekend Cruise Music Café “Songs for the people in quake-hit areas”
2) 4/3 – Visit to Ishinomaki City REPORT
REPORT 1 – http://ameblo.jp/john-lucas/entry-10851672191.html#main
REPORT 2 – http://ameblo.jp/john-lucas/entry-10852274460.html#main
3) 4/10 – Hiroshima Charity Concert、REPORT
4) 4/17 – Sapporo Charity Concert、REPORT
5) 5/1 – Sendai Charity Concert、REPORT