Jamaica’s Festival Song Competition, which forms part of the annual Independence celebration, will not be part of this year’s Jamaica 60th independence festivities due to poor entries.
The island’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange expressed her disappointment in this year’s entries during her sectoral debate on June 8.
Grange said the panel established to select the finalists advised that it was unable to choose 10 suitable songs from the entries.
“We received 123 entries, much less than previous years. Under the circumstances, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) will refund all entry fees in the amount of $123,000,” said Grange.
“I’ve instructed that we ramp up our Jamaica Festival Song workshops over the next 12 months, now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, to ensure that the competition returns next year with much-improved entries,” she said.
Grange said the disappointment comes after a period of tremendous growth in the competition which has seen the finalists in each of the last two years appearing on several music streaming services across the world.
Over the same period, the JCDC and the competitors were able to earn royalties for the first time.
“Last year, the Jamaica Festival Song album was even included on a shortlist that was considered for nomination for the Reggae Grammy. But there is a silver lining behind this dark cloud,” Grange said.
The minister said the opportunity will be used to produce a Jamaica 60 commemorative album, which will include two songs that were selected from the festival song entries and songs from Jamaica’s leading reggae ambassadors and emerging artistes.