Sun | Jan 26, 2020

Actuarial science student wins song competition

Published:Friday | February 15, 2019 | 12:10 AM
British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad (right) congratulating Kemari Ewen on his win.
British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad (right) congratulating Kemari Ewen on his win.

Sweet melodies and flawless harmonies echoed from the grounds of the British High Commission last Saturday as six songbirds put forward their best.

For many, that was the highlight of the second annual UK in Jamaica Fair – the Songs of the UK in Jamaica competition. It was a fantastic show of Jamaican talent, culture and creativity as the contestants performed their final pieces – one song from the United Kingdom (UK) and one Jamaican song. A competition put on by the British High Commission in partnership with The Jamaica National Group, Songs of UK in Jamaica was a display of true Jamaican talent.

To enter, Jamaicans submitted their renditions of a song performed or written by a British artiste. The entries were uploaded to social media for the contestant to rally support for their performance. The eight entries with the most likes and two judges’ wild cards performed at a live studio audition, with the top six advancing to the live finale at the fair.

Audience members heard covers of songs from popular UK artistes such as Labrinth, Coldplay, Adele and Callum Scott, and Jamaican greats such as Jimmy Cliff, Queen Ifrica and Bob Marley. Contestants gave their performances everything they had, – performing reggae medleys and even original songs with dynamic stage presence!

The panel of judges had quite a difficult decision to make. That task fell to British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad; songwriter, producer, composer, creative director and owner of Grafton Studios, Michael ‘Mikie’ Bennett; attorney-at-law, artiste manager, and commissioner of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, Ewan Simpson; and event coordinator for national religious services and projects at the JCDC, Andrea McCurdy.

In the end, 21-year-old actuarial science student at The University of the West Indies, Kemari Ewen, came out on top. The Ashe Company member was ecstatic about his win, saying, “Honestly, from the moment I entered the competition, I had my eyes set on winning, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the overwhelming pride I felt when I actually won.”

Ewen said that it was during his three years as a member of The Jamaica Youth Chorale that he really honed his skills. However, he notes, “I’ve been singing from mi eye deh a mi knee. Music is a huge part of who I am. I believe I was put on this Earth to sing and bring people together through music.”

The Negril native, who cites his biggest musical inspirations as Kim Burrell, Sam Smith and Yebba, said he entered the competition as a way to “put myself out there while having the possibility of travelling”. Along with the list of prizes are two tickets to London courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.

The winner, who is also a songwriter, plans to get into the studio to record his own music as soon as possible.