Arts & Culture

Roy Rayon: Still giving thanks

By Sade Gardner
Observer writer
gardners@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

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This is the ninth in a 10-part series on the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) Jamaica Festival Song Competition which started in 1966.

Four-time Festival Song winner Roy Rayon won his first title in 1985 with Love Fever written by Asley “Grub” Cooper. But when Cooper approached him two years later with the song Give Thanks and Praises, he admits it did not resonate with him as much as Love Fever did.

His perception would change after performing the song at the second roadshow for the Festival Song Competition.

“I knew then that the song was it; the whole Jamaica caught fire,” Rayon told the Jamaica Observer. “It was different then, Festival Song then was like a political campaign; it was good, friendly rivalry. All the different media houses gave it attention, town criers would go where the shows are, and when you were through campaigning and you hit National Arena and just the excitement that was there...it was fantastic,” he continued.

The song won the 1987 Festival Song title. Rayon recalled the fervour and pandemonium when he performed Give Thanks And Praises on the final night.

“There were people on the ground floor who ran outside; the venue wasn't built for that kind of shock. Because of the jumping the balcony started falling apart, and people on the concrete fell and had to be grabbing on to each other,” he recalled.

Rayon went on to win the competition in 1991 and 2008 with Come Rock and Rise and Shine, respectively. He also won the best performer award five times. His involvement in the competition boosted his career.

“The sort of promotion you got out of Festival at that time you couldn't pay for it,” he said. “I became a household name and it gave me exposure, so I am thankful. I will always support any effort Jamaica Cultural Development Commission is involved with, whether I agree with what they are doing or not.”

He weighed in on the contest's current model.

“The festival song is a metronome surrounding Independence celebrations. It's still a great avenue for people to get a break. Some of the songs are good, but others don't get a fair chance. The song should be melodious, simple, people should be able to party to it and have a good time.”

Rayon was born in Westmoreland and headed to Kingston at age 16 to pursue his dream of being an entertainer. He became acquainted with the Fab 5 Band in 1980 and — first entered the Festival Song Competition that year.

He released his last album Country Boy in 2010.

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