The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s annual flagship production, “The Festival Song Competition is seemingly back on track after more than fifteen years of name change and weak production and promotion under the previous PNP administration. The new JLP administration that actually initiated the competition over some forty odd years ago has injected new energies in the production and promotions of the event.

It has been noted though, that this year’s return to the originally created format for mounting the competition and arriving at a winner has seen the finals ending in what seem a shroud of controversy. At the end of the ‘08 Festival Song Competition finals held at the National Indoor Sports Centre, on the National Stadium Complex on Saturday July 12 last; disgruntlement was heard being expressed by several patrons who were in attendance to experience the event. Their annoyance was centred around the fact that, Roy Rayon, a many times former winner of the competition was again deemed the winner this year, as well as also being declared the winner of the “Best Performer” prize.

Many patrons did not seem to have a problem with, Roy Rayon’s entry “Rise And Shine” being declared the winning song. They however, are of the view that another contestant should have won the “Best Performer’s” prize. Then there are those who are of the opinion that, Lynford McIntosh who performed the entry, “Country Life”, Should have been the winner.

The overall presentation of the final was good. All ten finalists gave of their best performance, although the musical accompaniment provided by veteran musicians, the Fab 5 Inc., seems to drag at times and the tempo of the music rose and fell. This ebb and flow seem to cause some of the contestants to pull back from going full blast.

Among some of the finalist whose performance really deserves positive mention are, many times Festival Song winners, The Astronauts, with their entry, “Banjo Man”; Michael Rutherford who did his entry, “Ole Time Festival.” Lynford McIntosh, (In clever costuming) delivered his entry, “Country Life”; the lone female entrant, Versatile, who performed her entry, “We Need Love” and Clevon Edwards with his entry, “Little But We Tallawah.”

The guest artistes, Eric Donaldson, (also a many times Festival Song winner); Bounty Killa, Richie Stephens and young act, Shano-O, who performed at the event must also be commended for their outstanding contributions.

The positive approach of the Minister of Information, Culture Youth and Sport, the Honourable Olivia “Babsy” Grange, through the agency, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, must be encouraged and commended for resurrecting the Festival Song Competition in an attempt to recapture and recreate the feeling of excitement and patriotism once associated with the annual Jamaica Independence celebrations.

The list of Ten finalists and their songs are as follows: Roy Rayon – “Rise and Shine”; Lynford McIntosh – “Country Life”; Michael Rutherford – “Ole Time Festival”; D. J. Speng – Sweet Jamaica”; Versalile – ”We Need Love”; The Astronauts – “Banjo Man”; Clevon Edwards – “little But Be Tallawah”; Danny Brasko & Iya Simba – “”Festival Time Again”; Zetto – “Naw Lef’ Jamaica”; and Monty Montgomery – “My Jamaica.”

The procedures utilized to determine the winner of the competition were a combination of judges plus telephone text voting.


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