The Jamaica Festival Song Contest
Buju Banton reacts to his win at the 2020 Festival song finals.

FOLLOWING Independence in 1962 and with the introduction of the annual festival celebrations to mark the milestone, in his role as minister of development and welfare the late Edward Seaga, who would go on to become prime minister, created the Festival Song Contest in 1966.

Seaga saw this as a way to mobilise the Jamaican people, build a sense of patriotism among the citizens of the newly minted independent nation, and also viewed it as an engine of growth for the burgeoning Jamaican music industry.

Some of the winners over the years have become a staple on vintage Jamaican music playlists.

Here is a list of the winners over the years.

1966 The Maytals - Bam Bam

1967 The Jamaicans - Ba Ba Boom

1968 Desmond Dekker & The Aces - Music Like Dirt (Intensified ‘68)

1969 The Maytals - Sweet and Dandy

1970 Hopeton Lewis - Boom Shacka Lacka

1971 Eric Donaldson - Cherry Oh Baby

1972 Toots & the Maytals - Pomps and Pride

1973 Morvin Brooks - Jump In The Line

1974 Tinga Stewart - Play de Music

1975 Roman Stewart - Hooray Festival

1976 Freddie McKay - Dance This Ya Festival

1977 Eric Donaldson - Sweet Jamaica

1978 Eric Donaldson - Land of my Birth

1979 The Astronauts - Born Jamaican

1980 Stanley & The Turbines - Come Sing With Me

1981 Tinga Stewart - Nuh Wey Nuh Betta Dan Yard

1982 The Astronauts - Mek Wi Jam

1983 Ras Karbi - Jamaica I’ll Never Leave You

1984 Eric Donaldson - Proud to be Jamaican

1985 Roy Rayon - Love Fever

1986 Stanley & The Turbines - Dem a fe Squirm

1987 Roy Rayon - Give Thanks and Praise

1988 Singer Jay - Jamaica Land We Love

1989 Michael Forbes - Stop and Go

1990 Robbie Forbes - Island Festival

1991 Roy Rayon - Come Rock

1992 Heather Grant - Mek wi Put Things Right

1993 Eric Donaldson - Big It Up

1994 Stanley & The Astronauts - Dem a Pollute

1995 Eric Donaldson - Join de Line

1996 Zac Henrry & Donald White - Meck We Go Spree

1997 Eric Donaldson - Peace and Love

1998 Neville Martin - Jamaica Whoa

1999 Cheryl Clarke - Born Inna JA

2000 Stanley Beckford - Fi Wi Island A Boom

2001 Roy Richards ­- Lift Up Jamaica

2002 Devon Black - Progress

2003 Stefan Penincilin - Jamaican Tour Guide

2004 Stefan Penincilin - Ole Time Jamaica

2005 Khalil N Pure - Poverty

2006 Omar Reid - Remember the Days

2007 Neville “Gunty” Winters - Woman A Di Beauty

2008 Roy Rayon - Rise and Shine

2009 Winston Hussey - Take Back Jamaica

2010 Kharuso - My Jamaica

2011 Everton David Pessoa - Oh if We

2012 Abbygaye Dallas - Real Born Jamaican

2013 No competition

2014 Rushane Sanderson - I Love JA

2015 Lee-Roy Johnson - Celebration

2016 Oneil Scott - No Weh Like Jamaica

2017 No competition

2018 Oneil ‘Nazzle Man’ Scott - Jamaica A Wi Home

2019 Raldene Dyer - Loaded Eagle

2020 Buju Banton - I am a Jamaican

2021 Stacious - Jamaican Spirit

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