JCDC song finalist at Jazz 'n' Cabaret
One of the highlights of Jamaica's Independence celebration is the Festival Song Competition, organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC). With the top 10 now selected, the competition is in high gear.
But 2018 is unlike previous years. "For the first time we have 10 professional performers who can perform all over the world, and that is what we want. Before, there were a lot of amateurs what we did this year was to encourage writers, and we have had some outstanding writers and then we have the performers," explained Vernon Derby, committee chair for the JCDC Festival song competition.
But that's not all that is new for this year's competition. "They are free to perform the songs all over. As a mater of fact, there is one in California right now."
And that explained why two of the entrants Tanice Morrison and Rojjah - performed at Sunday's staging of the Jazz 'n' Cabaret in the Gardens held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
Before performing her entry song Jamaica Nice Yuh Nuh, Morrison shared the story behind her song. "There is a reason why I wrote this song I am very, very loyal to my country.
Strength despite challenges
"We have our challenges, but we are strong Jamaicans, proud Jamaicans. It's all about unity because Jamaica is so blessed, we all know that." She continued, "Everybody wants to live here, and there must be something uniquely special about us. And so this is my reason for entering and sharing the song."
Another entrant, Rojjah, who performed in the second half of the programme, told the audience, "We have 10 of the greatest songs you have ever heard. I am excited. I feel happy. I am in the top 10, but until I get number one, I ain't no winner."
Later he shared his reason for entering the competition with The Gleaner, saying, "I don't only want to be in the music for the money. I want to be in the music for some substantial thing. I want that when I am dead, I am remembered. Festival is a continuous thing, it is a historical kind of event for Jamaicans, about Jamaica, and I love Jamaica, so I want to be a big part of that history."
But while the top 10, which for the first time includes a choir, are promoting their songs at such events as the jazz show, Derby wants the local radio stations to play their part.
"We love the radio stations to play the songs more."