New festival contest launched for DiasporaFriday, April 23, 2021
BY KEDIESHA PERRY
GARFIELD McCook, conceptualiser of the inaugural Jamaica International Independence Festival Song Competition (JIIFSC), said he has opened an avenue for Jamaicans overseas to participate in a cultural event. McCook said he was inspired to launch the event after being rejected from entering the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) Festival Song Competition.
“In 2017, I enquired about entering the Jamaica Festival Song Competition. However, the rules and regulations stated that an entrant must be living in Jamaica two years prior to entering the competition. Since I was residing in the USA, the rule automatically eliminated me. I reached out to the JCDC via e-mail asking them to explain the rationale behind the rule, but I received no response. I reached out again in 2018 and received no response so I investigated the possibility of having a competition that Jamaicans living abroad could enter,” said McCook, who has called Atlanta home since 2001.
Hailing from Old Harbour in St Catherine, he relocated to Harbour View in Kingston before moving to the United States.
Slated to take place on July 31, the event will be broadcasted virtually, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, eastern standard time.
There will be a limited live audience, including guest appearances, judges and promoters, at the venue, which is Caribbean Life TV Studios (CLTV Studios) in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Expected to become an annual event, the competition is open to Jamaicans, who are 18 years and older and residing outside of Jamaica. Entrants are required to complete an application on the website: JIIFSC.com by May 15.
They are also mandated to pay a non-refundable entrance fee of US$150 and submit their song in MP3 format, as well as their lyrics sheet, which must be e-mailed to jiifsc@ gmail.com.
Groups can be two to four members and songs should be no longer than four minutes in length. Top prizes include US$8,000, US$4,000 and US$1,000 for first, second and third places, respectively. The competition is being funded by Georgia Dream Homes Realty, and Stilesboro Personal Care Home, both operated by McCook.
“[The] feedback has been great. The most popular response is that the competition is a great concept, allowing Jamaicans in the Diaspora to share their festive talent. Nobody I have spoken to knew that as a Jamaican, wanting to enter the local festival competition, you had to reside in Jamaica two years prior to your application date,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“We have had many artistes signal their interest, and said they are preparing their songs. When the deadline has passed, we will be able to confirm the number of entrants,” he added.
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