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Hi, fans of this Spotlight on the arts Column. Here we go again after a one week pause during the hectic election campaign. One thing for sure it allowed us as artistes and the public at large to witness once again the power of music in setting the correct mood, or even as a major influence in campaigns of this nature. Apart from the use of overseas artistes from the region and extra-regionally by the ruling party we saw on stage many local performances, by both parties, and about 30 recorded political songs in less than a month. Phenomenal. This should indicate to calypsonians and writers that the upcoming calypso season would do well without too much saturation of political songs which fans may be already tired of. Notwithstanding, according to the way the lyric is crafted, there isn't a dearth of lyrics for the 2015 season which starts off in two weeks time on December 28th.

This week, nonetheless, I wish to bring readers attention to a talent search exercise conducted by a Bahamian company Music Model and Talent Showcase Inc (MMTS) right here in Dominica. As a matter of fact it's an entire regional search which fell silently in the midst of all the political campaigning. The motto the group claim is "Taking Caribbean talent to the world". The mission: "to provide a safe, professional event for talent training, mentorship and advancement into international markets for Caribbean entertainers, models and actors". Well, I am pleased to say that the auditions were held and out of about 40 individuals the field was narrowed to 10 participants inclusive of models, dancers and singers.

Asher Thomas, Janae Jackson, Kasim Birmingham, Jervon "Jay" Christopher undoubtedly all top performers and achievers in Dominica are all part of that squad representing Dominica's best talents under the age of 25. It is in these youth that the future success of the country lies after witnessing seeing a Rihanna -type success that can pave the way for aspiring artist. Since Ophelia, and recently Michel Henderson, Dominica has not presented any formidable female artistes of regional or international acclaim and so MMTS provides such an avenue.

In brief, the company's aim is to bring together top industry professional from all across the globe whose business is to identify and develop future stars. Delegates will be afforded the opportunity to perform and network with professionals in the industry from the USA, England , France, South Africa Canada and even China for possible placement in various industries such as modeling , fashion, songwriting or getting signed on to major music labels via producers and/or their agents. Grammy Award music producers and songwriters as well as those in the fashion industry will get a chance to see what Dominica has to offer and who knows…!

This sort of scouting is what can provide opportunities for our youth who are so talented and deserve more than hand claps and cheers at the Arawak House of Culture or the stadium. It is time that our youth feel that there is a career path in the art and entertainment industry for them and really all it needs is one individual to break free, to make it and provide hope and opportunity for others. It was a similar opportunity that brought out Bajan Rihanna or Jamaica's singing sensation Tessanne Chin; it's all about being at the right place and time.

So who else could be afforded the responsibility to direct the local participants and get them ready to represent the Nature Island and ultimately themselves, than one who knows what it takes and has the passion and indeed connections to make it happen than Carla Armour- Thomas. Yes, Carla an artist herself, and one who is involved in tourism and management at the Anchorage Hotel is to take the lead and has begun "feeling" out the participants and creating a bond with them, so that Dominica has its best representation in tip –top shape come July 2015 when the one-week grand conference will be held in Nassau, Bahamas. Carla, as Dominicans should know, was the eyes, ears and did a fabulous job of managing and mentoring Queen Leslassa to Miss World Pageant where she was among the top 7 in the world in the talent round. Trust me, this was no easy feat from an obscure little island such as Dominica; making the right connection, ensuring that the branding of the artist was effective so person could take note. Let us face it, all over the world has talent comparative and better than what Dominica has to offer but it's how you package yourself that's important and the brand you are ready to exude that makes persons take note through your devotion, discipline, passion and execution.

The budget for Dominicans to attend such a once in a lifetime activity is expected to be in the region of about 50-60 thousand ; this is inclusive of accommodation for the week , airfares, tickets for the activities, seminars, photo shoots, training etc. Locally, the latter has already begun with some of the best available on island to prepare our participants to be at their optimum.

Our youth has never really asked, or got, an investment in their talent of such an amount as far as I can recall, neither has Dominica assembled such talent at any one time to expose themselves to some of the most formidable players in the entertainment industry, hence it is my hope and plea to private and public sectors (yes, Government) to invest and come on board as I am sure they will be written to, to so do. Soon the artist themselves will be hosting a couple shows and possible do some demo recordings as fund-raising ventures. Dominica, please do not disappoint them.


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