Dominica's got talent
From the word go, I am exhorting Q95 to do everything in their power along with their partners to continue this talents search activity which has culminated into a grand event every year for the past five years. As I dispel what I hope is a rumor that last weekend's show was the final.
I have witness many local events at the Arawak, and the Q95 talent show was one of the best in a long time for its competitiveness and high standards of vocal talent exhibited by young people. First artist, Alicksia Thomas of Portsmouth was the first participant after a sterling performance by guest artiste Dominican singing sensation Casim Birmingham (Under 16 Q-search 2013 winner). In both rounds she was a bit tentative and lacked some emotion although her good voice quality was obvious. Rising star Carlene Simon of Louisville with "One more try" was professional, articulate and strong even in the use of her falsetto in round one, and represented well Sandy's "Respect black woman" in round two making her a strong favorite very early.
Then the first of three competitors from Marigot, who had some vociferous support, was fair with "Unfaithful "despite some articulation difficulties. In round two, her Caribbean rendition was popular reggae number "Rise in love" which again might have not been the best choice of song, nor key, for her. But then it was the ever present Earl White from Bense, the first male participant who really added control intonation and a performance dimension which convinced all " To Love somebody". His deep bass and tenor range wooed all the ladies. In round two though, Earl disappointed with a wrong choice of song and to my mind came out of contention.
As if that was not enough, another stellar performance, my best for the evening, came from the tall and elegant Jasmine Laville, the second of three participants from Portsmouth. She was the first lady who did not appear dressed in black; she was attired in a blue flowing dress, appropriate for more than one reason. She sang with facial expression and feeling, conviction "A Change gonna come." For once, all the political colours at the Arawak House of Culture concurred. The talented performer took some of the wings off in round two but still kept her chances alive with "Take my wings."
By then I was convinced it could not get better than this…but I was wrong! Jessica Riviere of Layou "Set fire to the rain" though she required greater audience contact and executed well the only Cadence for the night, Alwin Bully's "Magnificat" (made popular by Ophelia). Jessica was one of the bright specks in Round 2.
Kinghill's Kenisha Hadeed's " Bound to you" not as popular a rendition with the audience but was well within her comfort zone. Meanwhile, in Round Two, Allison Hinds' "Roll it gyal" was presented conservatively, I thought, by Kenisha, belying the bacchanal type lyrics and her general 'ready to party 'attire.
Leon Fontaine of Gutter Village " Dance with my father" exhibited powerful and controlled vocals and was even more impressive in the execution of Tasha P " Let the children be children" signaling her potential as a prospective calypsonian. Masha Laurent present fairly Whiney Houston's version of " I'll always love you" , a song which has been over-used at competitions and so I noted nothing special ; however, she too was commendable in the execution of Della's calypso "Let Go" in the Second Round.
One of the most commanding and controlled voices of the night came from Marigot in the person of Rogerson Jeremy with the first of four gospel renditions "No more night."He was a class act not only as a singer but as a performer as her showed with Sparrows "Obeah Wedding." Apart from a few errors in the lyrics in Round Two, he was certainly in the running.
Shannon Gordon, again from "Ah-fu-a -we" city was expressive and filled with emotion in "I can't make you love me", but the crowd did love her in the end. In round two; again as with a few of the participant, not the best rendition was chosen to match the vocal abilities; therefore, the choice of "Wild, Wild West" of Daddy Chess, was untimely and limited her range.
Shenika Zephy of Portsmouth, epitomizes the saying "Never judge a book by its cover" as she stood unassumingly, pulling at her dress, awaiting her cue to begin. She was easy in pink as she was soulful in "At last'. When she came on again, she was not as composed with singing Sandra's "Die with my dignity'" as she sounded a bit out of breath.
Then boom! It hit us. Tracy Johnson of Trafalgar singing "Russian Roulette": clear, powerful, with conviction and proper use of stage, semantics & dramatics- pulled the trigger on the competition. Dressed in silver and red, she dazzled the judges with her professional performance in all departments. In Round Two everyone waited and she did not disappoint. In fact she raised the bar, unassailably, with Jimmy Cliff's "Many rivers to cross" allowing the full range of her vocals to put the competition to rest. Whyllis Joseph from Kalinago country crowd- pleasing "Days of Elijah" could not find his pitch or voice in "Voices from the Ghetto" second time around and left the stage unceremoniously bringing a great contest and show to an anti-climax.
Tracy won easily followed by Carlene, Rogerson and Jasmine…Fantastic!