BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter email@example.com
THERE will be no Festival Song Contest this year, at least, not in its traditional form.
Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna told Splash yesterday that the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) which organises the annual event, will instead oversee a contest in which persons can vote for their favourite Festival song as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.
It is the first time since the Festival Song Contest was held in 1966 that it will not be held in its traditional form.
"We will be looking at repositioning how we deal with Festival coming out of this," Hanna said.
Details of the JCDC programme will be announced later, she added.
Hanna stressed that lack of funds had no bearing on the decision to suspend the original Song Contest format. Last year, winners -- Abby-Gaye Dallas (secular) and Levy's Heritage (gospel) — complained that they did not receive their cash awards weeks after their victories in July.
Hanna first announced changes to the Festival activities Wednesday during the sitting of Parliament's Standing Finance Committee.
Yesterday, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party's spokesperson youth and culture, described the developments as a "backward step and a disgrace."
"If you go back to the early days it (the contest) was used to rally and motivate the people at a time of national celebration. I have no problem with the JCDC celebrating their 50th anniversary but this should not be a replacement," Grange said.
Bam Bam by Toots and the Maytals won the inaugural Song Contest which is held in late July, days before Jamaica's independence celebrations on August 46.
Baba Boom Boom by The Jamaicans won the following year with Intensified by Desmond Dekker and The Aces taking the 1968 competition.
Over the years, several artistes including Eric Donaldson, Stanley Beckford and Roy Rayon have made a name for themselves in the Festival contest as multiple winners.