Festival Song contest on


Festival Song contest on

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Monday, June 01, 2020

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DESPITE the cancellations and restrictions brought on by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), organisers of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition — Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) — say it's full speed ahead for this year's staging.

“Yes, the [Jamaica] Festival Song Competition is on this year and things are advancing. We've had listening sessions, and prior to that, we had auditions around the island and then we took all of those who made it through the audition sessions and those who submitted entries through the existing channel, that is, the submission of a CD and lyrics and other prerequisite things,” Andrew Clunis, director of marketing and public relations at the JCDC, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

According to Clunis, the submissions were placed in a pool for final selection.

“All the entries went before a panel of adjudicators, drawn from the industry, and they have now decided on the final 10. We'll be in a position to announce the final 10 pretty soon. At that time, we'll announce details of how the competition will be done this year, given COVID-19. There will have to be some adjustments and amendments to the format, in terms of how it is presented to the public,” he said.

Entertainment events have taken a massive hit due to restrictions brought on by COVID-19, which includes limiting gatherings to no more than 20 people in any public space.

As of Sunday morning, Jamaica recorded nine deaths and 581 people have tested positive for the virus.

The marketing and public relations director said the Jamaica Festival Song final is tentatively set for “the third week in July”.

As for the other elements of festival, including the Grand Gala, Clunis said final deliberations are taking place, and Culture and Entertainment Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange would be making that announcement.

“What I can say, though, is that every effort is being made that Jamaica has some kind of activity in whatever way, shape, or form, that will help to evoke that Independence spirit and give people something to celebrate after such a rough period,” said Clunis.

The Jamaica Festival Song Competition was first held in 1966 and was won by Toots and The Maytals' Bam Bam. It has unearthed talent islandwide for more than a half-century and has provided a platform for aspiring artistes and seasoned veterans to propel their talents on national and international stages.

Last year's winner was Raldene “Loaded Eagle” Dyer with Big Up Jamaica.

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