The annual Festival of Life (FOL), which happened on Good Friday, April 18 at the gargantuan Excel Centre in London was not the same this year because Ghana's Alabaster Box was there.
FOL is a one night event organized twice a year by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in the UK, and is hosted by the global General Overseer of the church himself, Rev. Dr. E. A. Adeboye.
The festival seats at least 40,000 people from across 670 RCCG branches in the UK and from other parts of the world, and Ghana's Alabaster Box was one of a few carefully selected and privileged gospel music ministers to share the stage with the RCCG General Overseer to minister on the night.
The group was the only acappella group and the only one invited from outside London to minister at the festival this year. That was the second time Alabaster Box performed at FOL. The first time was in November 2007.
Alabaster Box was billed to perform two songs on the night. But the awesome reception from the ecstatic massive crowd prompted event organizers to extend their performance period.
The group had actually left the stage after performing but they were called back and given the mikes to perform again amidst thunderous cheers from the crowd.
One of the hosts (MCs) for the night, Dr. Sola Irukwu used the occasion to announce the release of Alabaster Box's third and new album “Level don Change”, and invited the group to minister that song, saying that it fits into the theme of the festival “My Cup Runneth Over”.
He said “it is my pleasure to announce to you that Alabaster Box has just released their new album at FOL tonight and the title is Level don' Change – what an appropriate song for tonight – as we go through the Easter period we are believing God to move us to a higher level and this song carries that message.”
Prior to that, the Head Pastor of Jesus House, London and Chairman of all the 670 RCCG branches in the UK, Pastor Agu Irukwu had prayed over the new CD backstage and pronounced God's blessing on it.
Group Leader, Sammy Dowuona said “it was not an accident that Pastor Agu prayed over the CD because we were led to dedicate the title track 'Level don' Change' to him on his 50th birthday celebration.”
Sammy said Pastor Agu is a very kind-hearted man who left the UK and came to Ghana to look for the Alabaster Box and invite them to his 50th birthday celebration in London.
“When we met him in Ghana he told us he decided to invite his best friends around the world to celebrate his golden jubilee and he thought of us as one of his best friends. We were blown away by his love and the place he has given us in his heart. Indeed he gave us a life line as a group and we believe God was at work through him,” Sammy said.
Touching on the new album itself, Sammy said the 10-track album is the third of Alabaster Box's afroppella collections, and it took exactly 10 years since the launch of the second album in 2004, for the third to come.
“It is significant because the enemy tried everything to stop this album but it is here. The enemy is fully aware of the significance of the number three so he gave us a tough time with the completion and release of the third album.
“Now it is here and it is out. We believe it is destined to be a blessing to many around the world and everyone who buys a copy is sowing into a higher level of his/her own life,” group leader Sammy said.
He said the album, particularly the title track “Level don Change” is already making waves in the UK, and they expect Ghana to and the rest of Africa to tap into the album even more.
Other tracks on the album at Halleluyah, Hakuna Wako Fana ana Yesu, Yen Agya, Bebre, The Grace, Thank, Oshe, I shall not die and a remix of Mama Africa.
Alabaster Box is due back in Ghana April 30th to start preparations toward the formal launch of the new album, after which the group will be meeting two booked appointments in Nigeria in June and in July this year.
But while in the UK, the group is due to hold two evangelistic concerts at Alperton Baptist Church in London on Easter Saturday and Sunday, minister at Praise Chapel on Easter Sunday morning, Safeway International Ministries. They will also participate in Integrity Conference at Trinity Baptist Church and also do a number of performances in churches and schools in Bath.