Afaya Pollack steps closer to her dream

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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ASPIRING musician Afaya Pollack won the first Rita Marley Foundation (JA) Songwriting Competition. The 13-year-old student at Ardenne High School in Kingston said the victory puts her a step closer to realising her dream.

“I feel very happy, reaching one more step towards my goal of becoming an international musician. I feel the Rita Marley Foundation (JA) Songwriting Competition has provided me with the very first opportunity to achieve my career goal,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

The seventh-grader was awarded $50,000.

The competition's theme was 'Strong Black Women & Their Role in History'. The results were made public on July 1, International Reggae Day.

Second and third places went to Ardenne's Ruwenzori Ra and York Castle High School's Shawvick Barrett, respectively. They also received $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Head judge Vernon Derby said he and his colleagues were pleasantly surprised at the level of talent.

“The Rita Marley Foundation must continue to nurture their talents. This competition will go a long way in uplifting the nation's youth and ensuring the future of music is well-preserved,” he said.

Other judges were Beverley Lashley, CEO National Library of Jamaica; Dr Keino Senior, dean at School of Arts Management and Humanities (SAMH) Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts; and Michael Harris, that school's head of department for performance.

Music and voice will be added to Pollack's winning submission. To achieve that, the foundation brought in composer/musician Grub Cooper, who produced Marley's 1981 album, Who Feels It Knows It.

“As a veteran musician it is a privilege to be able to participate with youth in this competition. Young people tend to believe they are the repository for all knowledge, So it is nice when young people can get out that box and be able to reach out to elders for knowledge. There are still some young people who are willing to learn,” he said.

An established songwriter, Cooper has penned several hit songs including Rita Marley's One Draw and Harambe. He has worked with I-Three and Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.

Rosemary Duncan, manager at Rita Marley Foundation (JA), said: “The Rita Marley Foundation (JA) was highly impressed with the volume of entries and keen interest of students, parents and educators. Songwriting is an important skill and talent. It is a lucrative career that is in growing demand globally. Therefore, the foundation is honoured to have conceptualised this activity and looks forward to the execution of an even greater event in 2020.”


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