MORANT BAY, St Thomas — On December 2 the winner of St Thomas's newly launched talent show will be named, the sixth and final leg of a round of contests that began on September 23. The competition is an attempt to use music to curb crime and provide opportunities to those looking to break into the industry.
Finalists will receive free studio time, cash prizes, help with creating their music video, and the opportunity to secure a record label deal.
"Persons can sign up for the open mic segment just to perform while upcoming artistes can sign up for the competition to win cash prizes, among other great rewards. We even got a call that a blind man would like to participate and we are happy to have him on board," said Wavez Talent Fridays conceptualiser, cop-turned-philanthropist Detective Horaine Kelly.
The show is his answer to a problem he noticed while on the job.
"While at work on a daily basis and I am interviewing the persons involved in these crime-related activities, I [realised] that most of them involved are youth from about 17 to 30. Most of them are high school dropouts but they are also talented; some can draw while some are musically inclined," Kelly told the Jamaica Observer.
During the recent launch, his colleagues from the Morant Bay Police Division showed up to support the initiative and also to ensure that order was maintained.
According to Kelly, he has also received support from local and international record labels including two within St Thomas — Dunrich Music from St Elizabeth and US-based Mek Cents Records. Elite Generation and Thunder records are on board to provide mentorship and other assistance, he said. There are also prizes available for patrons who attend Wavez Talent Fridays, courtesy of other sponsors such as Roots 21, Baanstar Records, Wavez Enterprise, Hot Rass, and 1King, Kelly informed. Influencers will also be invited to offer social media support to artistes who need help building their online presence; they will also meet and greet patrons at events.
The launch was streamed live via St Thomas Events' Facebook page, giving individuals in the Diaspora a chance to check out local talent. Kelly said the feedback has been positive.
Local artistes who performed have also given the launch high marks.
"Mi feel good fi be a part a dis… a di first night and it can only get better. We had some technical difficulties but we give God thanks for the good and the bad," said Gucci Stamp Boss.
1Action, who also performed, was happy for the opportunity.
"I really appreciate what Wavez is doing. It is a great feeling to be a part of this. I have been doing music since I was 15 and each day I am understanding and loving the music world better," he said.
According to Kelly, established artistes such as Rytikal, Popcaan, Chronic Law, Ruption and Shaqstar have also provided positive feedback. Ajauni from Adaba music, who was the guest act during the launch, said he loved the energy.
Competitor Cold Isis is looking forward to the exposure that the shows will provide for him.
"Being a part of the music industry so far is really fulfilling because I can send out messages to people each week through my songs and they can relate to what I am saying," he said.
Up-and-coming St Thomas artiste Faugo is proud of the home-grown event.
"I have been doing music since high school and it is a good feeling to be a part of this competition. It is a St Thomas thing weh wi a try expose young artiste, and nuff young artiste deh bout di place. Mi like di look," he told the Observer.
Kelly is convinced that music is one way he can bring communities together and engage youngsters by giving them a platform to freely express themselves. He is hoping it will lead to a change in the mindset of those involved in wrongdoing, which will result in lower crime levels and positive vibes in the parish.