For this year’s festival song competition, the Ministry of Culture decided to make some changes. The competition, in its 54 years of existence had only catered to amateur singers and song writers, but this year, the Ministry included seasoned artistes in the competition.
The 10 finalists in the competition were announced on Tuesday, June 16 by Minister of Culture, Olivia Grange and includes Grammy award winning artiste, Buju Banton, reggae stalwarts Freddie McGregor, Toots & The Maytals, Papa Michigan and LUST. Newcomers like Xtra Bigg, Radix OD, and Sakina also made the finals.
But at least one of the contestants have taken issue with the new rules of the competition which she says is to the detriment of the of amateur singers who enter the competition.
“All of a sudden seasoned artistes are on the prowl in the competition,” Paris Taylor said in a letter to the editor in one of Jamaica’s newspaper.
Taylor also challenged the Minister to disclose to the public where and when these seasoned artistes attended auditions, because to her knowledge, that didn’t happen.
“There were four auditions, so it cannot be business as usual, or mere coincidence, that none of them auditioned in any of these. They have all eliminated those Jamaicans who have entered and spent their precious time and monies preparing their songs. These thousands of Jamaicans must get a voice. By any stretch of the imagination this is wrong, very wrong,” Taylor opined.
Calling out the Ministry for corruption, Taylor is demanding that an investigation be carried out.
“When it is not payola, it is cronyism, which is the deep-rooted element of corruption on the small musicians of our little island. Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis or Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry should intervene and investigate this series of wrongdoings of the state agency against the grassroots of our society,” she said.
Taylor said she spent approximately $100,000 to record it, mix and master the song she entered in the competition. And outlines that other amateur entrants would have spent similar money, but did not stand a chance.
“All these atrocities were done for some fairly affluent practitioners at the expense of those who could barely find the requisite monies to get their packages together. Subsequently, the rich will get richer and the poor get poorer!,” she declared.
The winning song will receive a prize of 3 million dollars.