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Jamaica's 53rd Independence celebrations climax With Grand Gala

Published:Friday | August 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
I-Octane brought his usual high energy to the Grand Gala stage.
Grand Gala celebrations in full effect.
Representing with the Jamaican flag.
Fab 5 band was recognised by the JCDC for their outstanding contribution to music. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (left), and Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna (right), presented the award to Andrew Campbell, son of band member Frankie Campbell.
Kevin Downswell lifted the spirit inside Grand Gala 2015.
Eric Donaldson during his performance at the recent Grand Gala inside the National Stadium.

Jamaica's proud and free celebrations came to an end in fine style as the festivities marking the country's 53rd year of Independence culminated with a grand spectacle at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Scores of Jamaicans turned up at the venue decked out in their national colors or the bandanna and denim mix, flag in one hand and horn in the other, to soak up the show put on by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

Starting promptly at 5:30 p.m., the show highlighted the best in Jamaica's culture as a number of performers gave their best in song, dance and poetry. The Portmore Dance ensemble, Ancient Priest Laud dance ministry and the Tassa band put in good performances that were well received by the audience. However, the evening belonged to the veterans.

Experienced acts like Roy Rayon, Eric Donaldson, Lovindeer and Fab 5 stole the show and were the high points in the evening's entertainment package. The first of that group of veterans to touch the stage was Eric Donaldson. Backed by the experienced Fab 5 band, the former festival song winner got the crowd in celebration mode and had their full attention from the beginning of his set until he made his exit. He thrilled with popular hits such as Cherry Oh Baby and Land Of My Birth, which were clear crowd favourites. He had the massive audience out of their seats, singing and dancing along with him.

The festival vibe continued when Roy Rayon mounted the stage. Also a former festival song winner, Rayon kept the momentum going with a few of his own hits. He led a sing-along to Give Thanks and Praises, as the audience belted out the lyrics to the 1987 festival song, many saying that it was just as enjoyable today as it was when it first won.

Lovindeer performed towards the close of the show and was also one of the performers the audience absolutely loved. Songs like Wild Gilbert and Pocomania Day connected with the crowd as they danced up a storm inside the venue.

Kevin Downswell was another of the night's highlights. Performing hits such as Already Done, Stronger and If Its Not You, the gospel singer did as well as the veterans to keep the energy levels up.

I-Octane and Noddy Virtue were the night's other performers, and they, too, put on a good show.

Although there was a lot of

talent and culture on display inside the national stadium, when the show ended just before 9 p.m., many patrons were left with mixed feelings about this year's staging. Some patrons felt they were robbed because the show ended earlier than previous years, while others believed that, compared to previous stagings, this year was one of the weakest. Still, there were those who enjoyed the show, saying that the JCDC managed to, once again, put on a show people would remember for years to come.

Fab 5 closed the show after a display of fireworks, but not before they were recognised by the JCDC for their contribution to music. Prime Minister, the Hon Portia Simpson Miller and Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna presented the award to Andrew Campbell, son of band member Frankie Campbell.