Last Tuesday, a school from the hills of Clarendon emerged champions of the TEENage Observer Expression Tour Finals 2012. Claude McKay High School was crowned the winners of the competition with their original piece titled Jamaicans.
Their supporters came equipped for the occasion with horns and high spirits in their numbers. The Clarendonians clad in Jamaica's black, green and gold and performed their Jamaica 50 inspired story about the nation's history from colonial times to present. When asked how they felt about the win, Claude McKay's instructor, who the performers deferentially referred to as Mrs Hall, said "We are absolutely ecstatic". She also mentioned the marked improvement in her performers; one of whom stated "We didn't expect this. A lot of work went into (the piece); like practice everyday and sometimes we even had our downfalls but we united and came together and we did exceptionally well today".
The win was unexpected but not undeserved, but victory did not come easily, as they had to compete with the creativity of fellow Clarendonians, the May Pen High School Choir who took the second place spot. The students were fearless and went all out in delivering their rendition of the Jamaican folk song Tief Tek Ova Town. The choir stormed the stage in dramatic fashion and charmed the crowd who were especially enamoured with 9-year-old 4th grader Rahjay Coleman. When asked if he was nervous about performing, he responded "No, I wasn't because I do it all the time".
The May Pen Choir edged out Evroy Williams from Petersfield High School, who had to settle for third place but also claimed the title of Most Creative Piece. When the talented and inventive student from Westmoreland came on stage, his costume alone wowed the spectators. Evroy was decked out in a suit made with strips of newspaper and complete with TEENage newspapers as props. "Not long, about thirty minutes", was Evroy's response when asked how long it took him to make the suit. A student of few words, Evroy was able to express himself on stage, performing an original piece entitled Out And Clean. The audience was nothing if not entertained by Evroy's delivery as they laughed and cheered at his Poetry Mix and dance moves.
Other winners were those taking sectional prizes. Best Tour Experience and Highest TEENage Distribution prizes were claimed by Herbert Morrison High and Manchester High respectively.
TEENage congratulates all the winners and thanks all the schools who participated in the TEENage Observer Expression Tour this year
— Sharlene Hendricks and Yakum Fitz-Henley
Although there could only be one winner, each performance was very entertaining and students from each school thought that their performer put out their very best. Unfortunately not everyone could make it to the top three. But some agreed that Claude Mckay's performance was good and it deserved to win.
Some students were visibily disappointed. The good thing was that each performer enjoyed themselves and explained that they were happy for the experience and opportunity to participate.
— Monique Jones and Nesha Daley
It can be said without a shadow of a doubt that backstage any event is most stressful and tiring. The TEENage Expression Tour Finals was no exception to this seemingly universal rule as emotions piqued.
There was always something that was needed in order to improve the students performances; whether it was more microphones, stage props, adjustments or lighting and sound effect challenges.
The energy backstage never seemed to fade as performers were rushing back and forth to changing rooms to gather equipment or simply because they were too excited to keep still. Many were adding last-minute touches to their routines, while others were anxiously awaiting their moment in the spotlight.
The backstage team even began to get nervous when they were unable to find performers, or tried to organise the chaos.
All in all, this year's tour finals was a success.
— Di-Andra Brown and John Powell
In addition to the performances by the students, we also had high-energy performances and non-stop entertainment from Coppershot's DJ Ash. To start off the show the Pro Moves Dance Company performed to a selection of dancehall songs with the boys dressed fully in black and the girls in black, green and gold. They definitely got the crowd pumped for the performances that were to come.
In true TEENage Expression tour style, in- between performances DJ Ash played chart- topping singles to keep entertained, and after the student performances, our special guest performers took to the stage. Bugle was first, singing a selection of uplifting and inspirational songs from his vast catalogue. He interacted with his audience and intrigued them to sing along to songs like What We Gonna Do and Journey. What seemed to have fascinated the crowd most was Bugle's renditions of selected artistes who are currently behind bars.
Buzzing new artiste Eva Hype was next to the stage with a high-energy performance which included a crowd-roaring knee slide. Despite the fact that he is new to the scene, he managed to get the crowd involved and excited.
After two very exciting performances, up next were the crowd favourite for the afternoon - T.O.K. Although working with limited microphones, they kept the audience alive as they sang a selection of old and new songs including Solid as a Rock, Footprints, Guardian Angel, Friend for life and their most recent song, Yardie.
With the crowd finishing the lines of every song, T.O.K. ran into the aisles as the crowd rose to its feet clapping, waving and having a good time.
Following them was none other than a TEENage Expression Tour favourite Mixing Lab, who gave a stellar performance doing the beats of popular songs from various genres.
— Lauren Campbell and Danielle Watson