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No Festival Song Contest

Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

FOR the second time in its 50-year history there will be no Festival Song Competition as part of Jamaica's Independence celebrations. However, the culture ministry is working to ensure that Jamaicans at home and abroad are not left without music for the season.

In the absence of the competition we have come to know, the ministry is working on a commemorative album which will feature some of the iconic festival songs of the past, as well as four new commissioned tracks to put music to the celebrations.

“Everything is coming together nicely,” said Lenford Salmon, senior advisor to Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sports. “We are currently going through the process of deciding on the final set of songs which will make the cut. Of course, we cannot have all the songs which won Festival Song on an album, so what we have to do is pick the really iconic tracks and include them. We have a special committee which has been charged with pulling all of this together. The team is also working on the four commissioned tracks, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.”

He further told the Jamaica Observer that the commemorative album will be ready in time for the opening of the Festival Village at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew on July 29.

Minister Grange made the announcement that there would be no Festival Song Competition when she launched the festival activities a few weeks ago. This year marks Jamaica's 55th anniversary of Independence.

In 2013, then Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna announced that the contest would be suspended.

The Festival Song Competition, which has also been known as the Popular Song Contest, first began in 1966 as one of the highlights of Independence celebrations, along with other activities such as the performing arts finals, The Festival Queen contest, and the Gospel Song Competition.

Some of the popular festival songs include Bam Bam by The Maytals, which won in 1966, the first year of the contest; Ba Ba Boom in 1967; Desmond Dekker & The Aces with Music Like Dirt from 1968; 1969 — The Maytals with Sweet And Dandy; Hopeton Lewis's Boom Shacka Lacka; 1971 — Eric Donaldson with Cherry Oh Baby; 1972 — Toots & the Maytals with Pomps And Pride. Eric Donaldson returned to win in 1977 with Sweet Jamaica and repeated the feat the following year with Land of My Birth. The Astronauts won with Born Jamaican.

Other winners have been Love Fever and Give Thanks And Praises (Roy Rayon); Mek We Put Things Right (Heather Grant); Fi Wi Island A Boom (Stanley Beckford); while last year's winner was Oneil “Nazzleman” Scott with No Weh Like Jamaica.


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