Festival Song contest onThursday, April 15, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
THE 2021 Jamaica Festival Song Competition is off and running. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) which administers the competition is currently issuing the call for entries, encouraging Jamaican artistes and songwriters to participate in the annual contest.
Chairman of the Jamaica Festival Song Committee at the JCDC, Orville Hill said that due to the restrictions caused by the current global health crisis this year's competition, just like last year, will be staged virtually, helping therefore to engender a sense of pride and patriotism going into the national celebrations of Emancipation and Independence in August.
“Due to the [coronavirus] pandemic, this year will have to be virtual. So, just like last year, there will be no live shows. All the performances will be recorded and aired using various platforms so that the public can listen, hear and exercise their choice in a similar way,” he said.
“The intention is to have the Festival Song Competition as one of the avenues to galvanise the support of the public into a deeper celebration as we move into the holidays. As a result, we project that the winner will be selected about two weeks before the Independence holidays, so by late July we should have named a winner,” Hill told the Jamaica Observer.
He noted that this year's competition will benefit from the momentum created by last year's contest won by Grammy-winning popular artiste Buju Banton, with his entry I Am A Jamaican. The win by this established act underscored the position of the JCDC that the festival song competition is open to both emerging and established artistes.
“The competition has always been open to all artistes, however over the years that was the perception that only amateurs were allowed to enter. We want to continue making it clear that the competition is for everyone and last year's win by Buju showed us that. So, the intention is to try attracting some established acts and then fuse them with younger, emerging artistes to make a nice blend,” said Hill.
The Jamaica Festival Song Competition began in 1966. The first winner was Toots and the Maytals, an aggregation led by the late Toots Hibbert, with the entry Bam Bam. Toots and the Maytals would go on to win the competition on two other outings with Sweet and Dandy in 1969 and Pomps and Pride in 1972. Other popular winners include Eric Donaldson who won with Cherry Oh Baby (1971); Sweet Jamaica (1977); Land of My Birth (1978), Proud to Be Jamaican (1984), Big It Up (1993); Join Di Line (1995); and Peace and Love (1997). Roy Rayon has been another popular multiple winner with Love Fever (1985), Give Thanks and Praises (1987), Come Rock (1991) and Rise and Shine (2008).