No Festival Song for Jamaica 55

Olivia Babsy Grange - Caribbean National Weekly News
Photo Courtesy of JIS Jamaica

The Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia “Babsy” Grange made the announcement that there would be no Festival Song Competition when she launched the festival activities a few weeks ago. This year, August 6, marks Jamaica’s 55th anniversary of Independence

The Minister, through her senior advisor Lenford Salmon said to compensate for the absence of the Festival Song Competition the ministry is working on a commemorative album. The album, which is targeted to be launched on July 29, will feature the top festival songs since te competition began in 1966, plus four new commissioned songs.

Salmon told the Jamaican Observer newspaper, “Everything is coming together nicely. We are currently going through the process of deciding on the final set of songs which will make the cut. Of course, we cannot have all the songs which won Festival Song on an album, so what we have to do is pick the really iconic tracks and include them. We have a special committee which has been charged with pulling all of this together. The team is also working on the four commissioned tracks, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.”

The annual Festival Song Competition was also canceled in 2013, during Jamaica’s 51 independence anniversary celebrations by former Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna.

Jamaican residing in South Florida, especially those planning to visit Jamaica for the 55th-anniversary celebrations say they are disappointed they won’t be a Festival Song this year. Peter-gay Brown, 38-year-old from Plantation, Broward County, says “The Festival Song has always been one of the highlights of the independence celebrations from I was a young girl in Jamaica. I am going home this year and was really looking toward the Festival Song especially with special emphasis being placed on Jamaica 55th anniversary by the Jamaican government.”

A quick poll by CNW among Jamaicans determined that the five top Jamaica Festival Songs among those polled were 1. “Sweet and Dandy” by the Maytals in 1979; 2. “What a Bam Bam” by the Maytals – 1966. 3. “Cherry Oh Baby” by Eric Donaldson – 1972. 4. “Boom Shacka Lacka by Hopeton Lewis – 1911 and “Ba Ba Boom Time” by Desmond Dekker & The Aces in 1967.

“There several great Festival Songs,” Brown said. “It should be hard to select the best for the commemorative album.”

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