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I am pleased to report that three of the five Dominican delegates made it to the top-10 in the successful inaugural Music, Model and Talent Showcase of the Islands (MMTS) in the Bahamas from July 12-17.

The Nature Isle delegates produced exceptional performances, holding their own with scores of talented delegates representing most of the Caribbean islands, including the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

The way petite Shivaughn Johnson made her mark at the modeling events was particularly impressive. She really stole the spotlight, making it to the top-10 in three events.

Equally pleasing were the top-notch performances of singers Carsim Birmingham and Janae Jackson, who wooed the audience at the Independence Theatre with their varying delivery styles of Beyonce's "Listen".

The inaugural MMTS event featured several VIPs from the fashion and entertainment industries-- talent scouts, managers, directors, and booking agents-- who held seminars and judged events while constantly looking for new talent.

Among prominent VIP scouts who attended the MMTS conference were renowned actor Kim Fields and nine-time Grammy award producer and songwriter Bryan Michael Cox who has written for Chris Brown, Mariah Carey, Nelly, Justin Bieber and many more.

Donnie Scantz, Daren Dixon, Sandi Bass and Byron Wright of copyright organisation BMI were there. Other notable attendees were Anna Nightingale, Kendrick Dean, J Hatch, Emmy-award winning journalist Lily Jang, Dion Summers and Kamela Forbes.

These industry stalwarts and dozens more were responsible for advising, mentoring and offering opportunities to delegates with the talent to pursue careers modeling, acting, songwriting, singing and music production.

They were well placed to offer regional performers opportunities in top Hip Hop and modeling agencies like Elite Model, Vibe Magazine, Manikin model and talent agency and Top Choice model agency.

The famous BET network was represented by Elon Johnson-- whose work in the entertainment industry might be familiar to Dominican viewers of the high-profile "Love and Hip Hop" and "Mob Wives".

The delegates from the Region got useful tips at several workshops. Among the most memorable were: "Social media and building your brand" by Lily Jang; "Audition Tips and Singers' Workshops" by Stevie Meridith.

There was a featured celebrity keynote session called "Master Class for Acting Talent" hosted by Kim Fields. Other standout sessions were "Ways To Get Paid For Your Music" and "The Business of Modeling" by Rodney Harris.

These, plus sessions like "What Makes A Great Producer Or Sound Engineer" by Kenrick Dean, Donnie Scantz and colleagues, and "The DNA Of A Hit Song" ensured that there was always something interesting going on.

In the competitive events, Dominica's delegates certainly caught the judges' eyes. Shivaughn Johnson excelled in the Monologue, Broadway and Beauty Spokesmodel and Commercial Print Model placing in the top three in each case.

Singers Carsim Birmingham and Janae Jackson definitely got a lot of attention from the industry scouts and although Ellaina 'Lyric' Joseph did not quite make it to the top-10 in her categories, she got several 'call backs' for personal interviews by agents.

From the other islands, 12-year-old rapper Farell and reggae singer Judah from the Bahamas were sensational and were the two top acts in the junior and senior categories for singers. Olivia Graveley of the Turks and Caicos Islands-- another hip hop artiste-- was the pick of the female singers.

Our own Shivaughn, who got many expressions of interest from agents, was the most consistent model overall amid the likes of Bahamians Penelope and Twanesha Lightborne and Trinidad's Akeela Irish.

Omalie Alie Durand, a Dominican who resides in Anguilla was also highly acclaimed for his songwriting ability, while Davin Johnson impressed as an elite male model with his well-sculpted physique.

The Cuban group "Los Principalos" was evidence that music is the international language as they continuously stole the spotlight with their blend of voice and versatility in R&B, Hip Hop and Rap. Here is a group that, notwithstanding constraints of language and strained relations with the USA and their country, is now grasping the opportunity through the hand of friendship offered by President Obama to Cuba.

Though they were the sole act in the group category, they won the hearts of many and were afforded the honor of closing out on the final day of the six-day conference.

When called for testimonies, several participants said it was an opportunity beyond most dreams. All left with something at the end: a recording deal, a modeling contract, an opportunity to network and to submit work, future exposure possibilities and sound advice to improve their own craft.

Island MMTS (Music, Model and Talent Showcase) CEO Pia Glover Rolle, at the closing ceremony, disclosed that already over 250 persons have registered their interest in next year's event. However what was not disclosed is what came out of the personal call backs for the Dominican artist as most things may not be signed or sealed for delivery. This is their prerogative and we respect this!


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