Jamaican music icon Buju Banton has emerged the winner of this year’s Jamaica Festival Song Competition, among ten finalists. His entry “I am Jamaican” gave the Grammy award-winning artist the grand prize of $3 million.
“The true winner tonight is the Sunbeam Boys’ Home,” Banton said after he received the symbolic check. The singer has pledged to donate his winning to this charity. The win comes recently after the release of the artist’s most recent album, “Upside Down 2020.”
“Jamaica Dance” by Papa Michigan came in second place, and Sakina Deer, one of only two female finalists, got the third prize with “We are Jamaica.”
Out of 250 entrants, Banton was a favorite on social media. Freddie McGregor and Nazzleman also gained a following on social media, although neither made it to the top three.
This year, the decision came by public vote, and the contest was staged virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. The Jamaican Minister of Entertainment and Culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, expressed her satisfaction at the improved interest, keenness, and sense of pride displayed by Jamaicans as regards the JCDC Festival Song Competition for 2020.
“The success has provided us with the perfect springboard to soar to even greater heights,” she said.
At the start of the year, Grange announced that the event was to be enhanced and repackaged to restore its former reputation. The annual Jamaican Festival Song Competition commenced in 1966, to grant Jamaicans a patriotic vibe during their Independence celebrations.
Apart from promoting Jamaican music, the winning Jamaican Festival Song Competition of each year serves as a call to action and an anthem of pride for every Jamaican adult and child, home and away.
Some of the notable past winners of the celebrated prize include Roy Rayon, Tools and the Maytals, Eric Donaldson, Nazzleman, Tinga Stewart, and Hopeton Lewis.
I think I was Jamaican in another life – I’m a 6th generation Trinidadian on my mothers side so I love Calypso and other Caribbean rhythms but Old school Reggae is my favorite genre.
I’m a big collector of old school dance hall and songs by artists like U-Roy, Michigan and Smiley, Trinity, Dawn Penn, political poets like LKJ, etc –
So given the current Covid-19 situation “Diseases” by Michigan and Smiley is a very timely and relevant song, and “Street 66” by LKJ (Linton Kwesi Johnson) is a good one for BLM and police brutality issues. Just wanted to share those brilliant songs and encourage the newbies to look them up – old school reggae is filled with powerful messages and wisdom.
Love Reggae music grateful for all the talented groups and singers world wide who keep it alive and so relevant!