– Balford Henry
Kingston, March 29, 2012
Ten songs have been chosen to compete for Jamaica’s Festival Song  finals 2012, which this year has the added dimension of celebrating the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.
The finalists were chosen from a field of 160 entrants, which was reduced to 35 in February and, eventually, to 10 earlier this month.
The 10 finalists are: Bess A Bess, by Demton Bedward; Dis A Mi Island, by Nester Chung; Down in Jamaica, by Rudolph Tomlinson; I Love JA, by Ryan Willis; Jamaica Beat Dem Bad, by Tashina McKenzie; Jamaica Jah Mek Ya, by Calvin Wisdom; Jamaica Mi Love Unu, by Sheldon Howell; One for All Jamrock, by Dorel Lecky, Reginald Mills and Gregory Allison; Real Born Jamaican, by Abbygaye Dallas; and, Still Going Strong, Oneil Scott.
The selection was made at the semi-final on Thursday, March 15, at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston. The thirty-five (35) participants performed their entries. This followed the original screening on Tuesday, February 14, at the same venue.
Although it was expected that the Jamaica 50 theme would have encouraged well known names in local music, including reggae and dancehall, to enter the competition this year, the field was complete with unknown quantities.
A spokesman for the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), which stages the annual event, while admitting that the entrants are unknown, semi-professional artistes, said that they had been singing for a while and the competition will offer them an opportunity “to become known”.
In addition to workshops to improve their skills, the Commission plans to work on improving the quality of the songs, which it said are still in a “raw” state, and producing a CD and videos by the end of May.
Past winners of the competition included Toots and the Maytals, Eric Donaldson, Desmond Dekker and the Aces, Tinga Stewart, the Jamaicans, Roy Rayon, Freddie McKay and Stanley Beckford.
Reggae legends Bob Marley and the Wailer’s only entry, “Nice Time” (1967) failed to make the final ten in 1967 when the Jamaicans (Tommy Cowan, Norris Weir and Martin Williams) won with “Baba Boom”.
The Jamaica Festival Song Competition which started in 1966 is the longest running Song Competition in Jamaica.


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