Click here to print page

St Lucia shines at Sandals arts fest

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Thursday, October 05, 2017

ST Lucia was the toast of the week-long Sandals Festival of the Arts competition which culminated at Sandals Ochi Beach Club in St Ann last Saturday.

The annual talent showcase — opened to employees of the “Butch” Stewart-owned Sandals and Beaches resorts — saw 70 representatives from 19 properties competing over six days. It boasted contestants from the Anglophone region including Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, and St Lucia.

The St Lucian contingent impressed the judges to take home five of the coveted 10 categories up for grabs, with Barbados and Jamaica sharing the remainder. Nirie Emmanuel — Best Instrumentalist; Jarvis Gajadhah — Best Spoken Word; Tanisha Lamontagne — Best Solo Dance; and Marcellus Auguste — Best Deejay took home awards for the Eastern Caribbean contingent.

The fiercely contested Best Male Vocalist category was, however, shared by Jamaica's Justin Morris and St Lucia's Giovanni Ermay.

Ermay was pleased with his win as well as those of his countrymen.

“For me, I just went all out. I knew the other guys in competition could sing well and that's why they're all here. I knew performance was part of what the judges were looking for, so I put all my emotions in the song... I'm happy to have won,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

His rendition of Jealous by Labrinth found favour, especially among the female guests.

“We (the group from St Lucia) just came in and gave it our best shot, and it paid off. I commend the other contestants as well, as they were all good,” Ermay added.

Morris was equally elated to share male vocal top honours. He said his entry into the arts festival was mere fate.

“It was quite an awesome journey going through the different stages. It's quite a learning experience. I didn't expect to win. I feel really good about the win,” he said. “I was basically ushered into the competition by my manager. I'm only at Sandals Ochi for six months and my intention was to just lie low, do my job, and be good. Everyone then said they heard I could sing... Shortly after, I heard I was up, and that's it.”

His rendition of Jill Scott's A Long Walk was also well received.

Other winners were: Shelly-Dean Bartley — Best Female Vocalist (Jamaica); Shavaugh Sewell and Renaldo Gray —Best Dance Group (Jamaica); Ashley Thomas — Best Female Model (Jamaica); and Samuel Skeet — Best Male Model (Barbados).

Joel Ryan, Sandals Group Manager of Entertainment, said the competition exceeded all expectations.

“It was six nights of pure entertainment... it's the first time we were introducing the Deejay category, and we revamped the Spoken Word and Dance categories. The structure was featured over six days and each event was adjudicated individually by professionals in the industry; we used a lot of people coming out of Edna Manley (College of the Visual and Performing Arts), UWI (University of the West Indies), and some of the practitioners,” Ryan told Observer.

The group entertainment manager said the occasion also had a benevolent aspect.

“This year, we had to leverage a lot of our donations to folks in Antigua. Turks (and Caicos) is closed, so is Bahamas; they were not able to enter the competition. So the focus was to help raise funds to help relieve some of those islands in distress,” he added.