A theatrics-filled JCDC Festival Song Competition
The break in 2017 of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition seems to have resulted in the largest audience to Sunday's finals since the competition was launched in 1966.
Sunday evening's finals at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre started off on the right note with The Ashe Company. The 25-year-old performing arts group set the tone with a medley of old and new reggae, dancehall, ska and lover's rock singles that got the audience rocking.
Each of this year's finalists had a signature style of presentation, from the initial performances of covers to their entry songs: Everton 'Pesso' Pessoa (Jamaica Formula); O'Neil 'Nazzle Man' Scott (Jamaica A WI Home); and Roger 'Roijah' Mendez (I Love Jamaica), were the most outstanding with added props, dramatic deliveries and dance moves.
Another finalist who made a lasting impression was the Escarpment Road New Testament Church of God, with more than 40 members contributing to the performance on stage and 10 times the number of supporters in the audience. The group being the largest was the first of its kind to submit an entry, plus make it to the finals.
As fans of Festival music, relatives, and friends awaited the announcement of the 2018 winner, past Festival competition winners Tinga Stewart and Roy Rayon as well as veteran musician, producer and former lead singer of The Heptones, Leroy Sibbles ,provided an additional musical treat.
According to Sibbles, the competition had an impressive set of vocalists, however, it was missing a key point.
"The tracks, rhythms and format are following the original style - all the song entries shared similarities, there was not much creativity - making it a hard prediction," said Sibbles before the announcement of the winner was made.
And a hard deliberation it was for the judges, which included reggae artiste Tony Rebel, journalist Balford Henry and singer/ songwriter Shirley McLean, among other music industry professionals. It was more than one hour after the performances before the sectional prize winners and the champion were announced.
At approximately 11:30 p.m., Nazzle Man walked away with the cash prize of $2 million, being both the singer and writer of his song, Jamaica A WI Home. He also walked away with the cash prize for Best Vocalist, while the choir won the Best Performer and Most Popular on Social Media prizes.
Orville Hill, JCDC's interim executive director, said: "Our team set out to re-establish the competition, and we believe that has been accomplished. For that reason, it took some time for the judges to review the assessments and tally the scores for each of the finalists not only because it was a difficult choice, but we wanted to ensure no mistakes were made, and everyone was satisfied in the end."