Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
Jamaicans will be rocking to the Abbygaye 'Abby' Dallas-penned Real Born Jamaican this Independence period.
On Saturday, her dramatic entrance and exit helped her to drive away with the coveted title: Festival Song 2012. On the other hand, Tashina McKenzie was the winner of two awards: the Facebook Voters, and Best Performer, as well as the prizes for second place. Oneil 'Nazzleman' Scott, in third place, completed the top three.
The other finalists, who also received a Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) plaque, were Rudolph 'Rudy' Tomlinson, Denton 'Monsoon' Bedward, Old and New (Reginald Mills and Gregory Allison), Calvin 'Rasta KeeKee' Wisdom, Nester 'Humility' Chung, and Sheldon Howell.
Inspired by J'cans
After the announcement was made, an elated Dallas, whose prizes included a 2012 Nissan Versa, courtesy of Fidelity Motors, and a cash prize, shared some thoughts. She began by saying, "I want to thank God for this win." She explained that the inspiration for writing the song was Jamaican people. "Everywhere we go people just want to be like us. Our style cyaan spoil, and we do our thing different. Everybody wants to be like a Jamaican," said the Edna Manley College graduate.
Dallas said she was not surprised at being announced the winner. Here is why. "I wouldn't say it was a surprise because I have been seeing it in my dreams, in my visions, that I am going to win because I believe that I had what it takes to win."
Already, the talented product of many JCDC performing arts awards over the years, Dallas said she plans to take her musical career to higher heights. "I plan to stay with my career, do an album, go out there, international - let the whole world know what I can do. I am here and I have the talent. I am a real born Jamaican [the title of her song] and I am taking it to the world."
But alas! When the winner was announced, it took the audience by surprise. And some left the arena right away. The Gleaner got feedback from three of those persons who stayed to see Dallas' closing act along with the other eight competitors, singing Real Born Jamaican.
Gregory Bryan, a McKenzie supporter, thought that Dallas' entry was one of the weakest. "I thought by getting Best Performer, that person should have been the winner. Yes, I am Tashina's fan also, but I saw male participants who were more dominant in terms of their entry, plus their performances. So it was a surprise to me."
Amique, who supported Scott was blunter. "I think it was a made-up thing. This is a cook-up thing."
However, Beverly was of the view that "she deserved it; she deserved what she get because she worked very hard for it".
Tribute to athletes
The programme ran smoothly, beginning with the singing of Jamaica's National Anthem. Then the L'Acadco Dancers paid tribute to the 2012 athletes. The colourful and lively dance was choreographed to the songs Flag in My Heart and I Am on a Mission. This was followed by vignettes on the competitors before each made an appearance for a cover song.
Dallas' rendition of a medley of Marcia Griffith's songs was one of the better performances, the other being Sheldon Howell's delivery of Beres Hammond's Can We Play Some More?
Everton Pessoa, 2011 winner, performed his winning entry while guest artistes Bescenta and Tony Rebel were commendable.
The Festival Song 2012 Grand Finals was held at the National Arena and not the customary Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. According to Hopeton Murray, production coordinator at the JCDC, it was a matter of expectations. They expected more persons to attend this year's event given that it is Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence. The arena holds 7,500 whereas the Ranny Williams holds just over 3,000. And while all the seats were not occupied, the turnout was good.