Ardenne High crowned 2011 All Together Sing champions
Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
In a final that had two schools from rural Jamaica, Ardenne High reigned supreme as the young vocalists took home the coveted All Together Sing Trophy for the first time.
Before the start of the final, DeCarteret College and Manchester High seemed more likely to be among the winners, but were surprised by the St Andrew-based institution in the final analysis.
The three finalists were made to perform for the TVJ studio audience one last time before the winner was revealed, and even though all three schools gave good performances, there could be only one winner.
DeCarteret College went first, and they sang a well-arranged rendition of Total Praise by Richard Smallwood.
Dressed in purple, they delivered a stellar performance, hoping to capture the trophy that has eluded them for years.
At the end of the performance, the judges mutually agreed that the performance was good, expressing that they were overwhelmed by the choir's ability to deliver credible tone and diction.
Ardenne High were next up. The pressure of being the only Corporate Area school remaining in the competition was severe.
They performed Prayer Of David and used a big-voiced lead singer who represented well, to guide the rest of the choir until the last note was delivered.
From their facial expressions, it was clear that they came for the title and that the pressure would not adversely affect it.
Resident judge Lileth Sewell commented that the performance of the choir felt professional, while the animated Dennis Rushton said that it was like a tsunami of worship.
The final choir to perform was Manchester High, and the choir from Mandeville entertained the audience with their original piece called Manchester In The Final.
"Tonight is the night we've been waiting for," they sang, as they professed their prospects of being crowned champions.
Sewell said she loved the creativity and the dynamics of the choir, while Rushton said the performance was delicious.
It now neared the time for the big announcement, and all three finalists joined each other on stage to hear the final decision.
But before the announcement, Kay Osborne, general manager of TVJ, said the choirs performed at high standards.
According to Osborne, the production team had set the bar extremely high and the schools met the challenge.
She said the season was a success and gave special thanks to sponsors Burger King and Lucozade.
At 9 p.m., All Together Sing host Sanique Vacianna announced the winners of the 2011 competition.
The result, a first for the competition, used a 50-50 scenario, where judging responsibilities were split between the voting public and the judges.
Ardenne High School came out on top.
DeCarteret College were the first runners-up and Manchester High finished third.
According to Jermaine Forrester, assistant director of the Ardenne High School Choir, Manchester High School seemed to be the real threat based on talent.
"Anybody could have won but we are grateful that we came out on top ... Manchester high was the threat based on talent and D.C. is like a voting machine," he said.
This is the second time that Ardenne High was entering the competition. They were eliminated in their 2005 effort.
"We waited for this for many years and we made up our mind that we would take it this year. I'm thankful to Jamaica, the teaching staff and the students who helped us campaign for votes," he said.
The choir now eyes the upcoming Jamaica Cultural Development Commission Festival competition in 2012.
For being the winners of the 2011 staging of All Together Sing Competition, Ardenne went home with $500,000 courtesy of TVJ, $150,000 from The Gleaner and $100,000 from Lucozade.
"Right now we are just happy for the Christmas break, however, we do have some upcoming concerts to perform as well," Forrester said.