Dancehall keeps target on education
Adrian Frater, News Editor
The top finishers in the 2010 edition of Red Label Wine International Dance-hall Queen, slated for the Pier One Complex, Montego Bay, on Saturday, July 31, will not be the only ones poised to benefit financially, based on the plans of promoter Brian Martin.
Martin, who has been staging the internationally renown event annually since 1996, has announced that come this year, $1 million will be awarded to needy students, through a scholarship fund which was established in memory of former dancehall queen Shanique Taylor, who died a few months after she won the title in 2005.
"We will be seeking to identify 20 qualified youngsters from inner-city communities who are yearning to further their education at the college or university level," said Martin, who is the CEO of the Montego Bay-based Bighead Clothing Store.
"There is a vast amount of untapped potential inside these communities, and while a million dollars may be considered a drop in the bucket, it could be a great start for these needy persons."
Since the scholarship fund was established in 2006, Martin says, more than 30 students from margina-lised communities have benefited.
"Our hope is to enrich the lives of the beneficiaries, who we hope will, in turn, be an inspiration to others from their various communities," said Martin.
"Some of those who we have helped once thought that their lives were hopeless."
To protect the integrity of the scholarship fund, Martin said no cash is paid directly into the hands of the recipient but is, instead, paid directly to the institution they are attending.
"We having been trying our best, and it has been working quite well," said Martin.
"We know we cannot do it alone, so we would like corporate Jamaica to join in so that we can have more students realising their full potential through education."
The Red Label Wine International Dancehall Queen Contest, which regularly attracts participants from Japan, Belgium, Norway, England, Canada and the United States, is arguably one of the most popular events on the local entertainment calendar.
At last year's staging, 26-year old Tavia Morris, an Ocho Rios-based exotic dancer, walked away with the title, beating Poland's Ursula Fyce and Tiffany Hewitt of Kingston, into second and third place respectively.