Festival Song finalists bring their ‘A’ game at presentation show
One week before the final showdown at which the winner will be declared, the 12 contestants in the 2021 Jamaica Festival Song Competition got a chance to show their mettle at a televised presentation show, which was also streamed live on various platforms.
This year’s competition is an interesting mix of established acts, previous contestants and up-and-coming acts. They include Fab 5, I-Octane, Lutan Fyah, Althea Hewitt, Stacious, Candy, Pessoa, Dez-I Boyd, Father Reece, DB, Reggae Maxx and Tamo J. Last Thursday evening, in a show crackling with energy, the dozen participants brought their ‘A’ game to the stage and excited viewers with thrilling performances of their festival song entry, as well as another song of their own choice.
The presentation also involved pre-taped interviews in which the finalists shared why they decided to enter the 55th staging of the competition. For show band Fab 5, it was all about providing a song that can make everybody move, “from the child to the grandma,” while I-Octane, who declared that he was happy to be “one of the 12,” sounded like a musical disciple. Although most of them didn’t say it out loud, it became obvious that they are all in the contest to win, and the viewers seemed to agree that 2021 will be a tight decision year. “Mi seh, the talent tun up inna festival dis year,” one viewer commented on YouTube.
In an era where social-media popularity counts for something, some contestants seemed able to marshal their online troops better than others. Over on the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) YouTube pages, it was obvious from before the advertised 8:30 p.m. start that Team DB and Team Candy were out in full force. Comments included: “DB for the win.” “Make sure to vote for DB.” “Candy fi mi chocolate.” “Looks like Candy is up next. Come through, mi winner!!” “I can’t wait till I hear Candy. Her song sounds good. Fab 5 have a good song too. The competition is tight this year.”
MAN OF MANY HATS
However, there was also much love for Father Reece, the many-time contestant who had served time in prison for murder. “Father Reece wears many hats ... singer, motivational speaker, guidance counsellor, farmer. He did not let his past limit his ability. Bloom where you are planted, sir!” a new fan stated.
Pessoa was branded “hot like a lava” and “the next Eric Donaldson”, and, after many compliments directed at Althea Hewitt’s magnificent voice, they also praised her regal appearance. “Althea Hewitt came out dressed like a whole queen!”
At the end of the over two-hour long showcase, which was hosted by comedian Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley, some persons declared that they were getting ready to vote for multiple contestants, and there were questions about voting from overseas.
In a release, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange stated: “Voting lines will open immediately after the performance show, so we want the public to take their support to the next level by calling and texting to vote for their favourite finalist ahead of the competition’s grand final announcement show on July 22. If you’ve heard your winning Festival Song, a song that speaks to you, moves you and grooves you and makes you proud to be a Jamaican, then you need to vote to ensure that it remains in the running to become Jamaica’s next Festival Song.”
The minister reminded that all 12 songs are already available through music streaming platforms, including Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, Deezer, YouTube Music, and Spotify. Snippets of the songs can also be found on the JCDC’s website.
The 2021 Jamaica Festival Song Competition will culminate with a televised grand final next Thursday, July 22. Sponsors include Radio Jamaica/TVJ, CHASE Fund, Digicel, Shirley and the Jamaica Observer.