Young ’uns sweep Festival Song Competition
During her interview at the July 15 presentation show for all 12 finalists in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Festival Song Competition 2021, a sassy Stacious, oozing with confidence, had declared, “Me – trendsetter; me – history-maker.” Whether through the power of words or a keen understanding of the assignment at hand, or perhaps a bit of both, it was Stacious who triumphed one week later, collecting the winner's trophy and a big, fat cheque for $3 million.
With her winning song, Jamaican Spirit, she has now gone straight into the history books alongside Heather Grant, Mek We Put Things Right (1992); Cheryl 'Chetenge' Clarke, Born Inna JA (1999) and Abby Gaye Dalls, Real Born Jamaican (2012), previously the only female winners of the 55-year-old competition.
And, in another interesting departure from the norm, it was also a night on which the younger contestants dominated. Claiming second and third place, respectively, were DB, a popular dancer and social media influencer, and Tamo J, an up-and-coming artiste and vlogger. Chairman of the Festival Song Committee, Orville Hill, told The Gleaner that he was pleased.
“It was a very good competition, and we had some great songs. I am pleased with the relatively young people who came out on top. That is what we wanted to achieve. We wanted to get younger people interested in the competition, as well as the more established acts. The winner was chosen by voting only and, in the final analysis, the public has spoken and Jamaican Spirit is our Festival Song,” Hill said, adding that the song will be the backdrop for all Independence activities.
He had said earlier that the JCDC had reached out to young producers and songwriters in the entertainment industry, as well as established artistes, to participate in the competition. Hill noted that several of the songs catered to a young audience.
In an interview with The Gleaner right after her win, Stacious, who had said repeatedly that she was in the competition to win, admitted that she was surprised and overwhelmed when her name was announced as the winner. “When I do anything, I give it my all, and this Festival Song Competition was no different. I put my best foot forward and made history as the fourth woman to win the contest, and I am speechless. I wanted to be different, and one of the things I did when writing this song is that I deliberately did not use the word 'Jamaica', but I did everything to let everybody know that I am all about Jamaica,” said Stacious, whose costume utilised the colours of the Jamaican flag.
The virtual event took place last Thursday and was streamed live on the JCDC's website, www.jcdc.gov.jm, Facebook and YouTube. It was also televised by TVJ from the National Indoor Sports Centre, which was closed to a live audience, in adherence to COVID-19 protocols. However, that did not diminish in any way the effort that went into the production, and, for more than two hours, fans were entertained as the finalists threw down great performances, some more dazzling than others.
The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport also paid tribute to the first winner of the Festival Song Competition, the late Toots Hibbert, whose last performance on Earth was at last year's finals of the Festival Song Competition, in which he was a finalist. A short documentary aired during the programme saw music stalwarts pay tribute to the ska, rocksteady and reggae icon.
In another video presentation detailing the history and importance of the Festival Song Competition, footage from the archives of the National Library of Jamaica showed a young Edward Seaga telling Jamaica about this new and exciting competition to choose “a song which will dominate the street parade during the festival”.
Introduced in 1966, the Jamaica Festival Song Competition is the longest-running original song contest on the island. The competition has become a showground for aspiring artistes, songwriters and producers to showcase their talents, and aims to identify a new and original song that reflects the spirit of the Jamaican people.