BY BASIL WALTERS——
ABBYGAYE Dallas’s Real Born Jamaican was chosen as Jamaica’s 46th Festival Song from a field of 10 at the National Arena on Saturday night.
She is the third female artist to win the contest since it started in 1966.
Abbygaye Dallas (centre) receives the keys to Nissan Versa motor car from Leslie Nembhard (left), sales manager for Fidelity Motors Limited, while being presented with her trophy from Lisa Hanna, Minister of Youth and Culture, at National Arena on Saturday. (Photos: Jermaine Barnaby)
“I feel good because it’s been a while since a female artist has won this contest and this year, I prayed it would be my year,” Dallas told the Jamaica Observer.
She follows in the footsteps of Heather ‘Brown Sugar’ Grant, who won in 1992 with Mek Wi Put Things Right and Cheryl ‘Chetenge’ Clarke, the 1999 winner with Born Inna Ja.
Dallas, a graduate of Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts’ Music School, is already looking beyond the annual contest.
“I plan to take my musical career to the extreme internationally and this is a great stepping stone for me right now,” she said.
No stranger to the music industry, Dallas has provided background vocals for Diana King, Tanya Stephens, Queen Ifrica, Tony Rebel, Shaggy, and Mavado.
She was presented with a cheque for $500,000 as well as a Nissan Versa motor car valued at $2.4 million.
Tashina McKenzie, 2007 Rising Star finalist, came in second with her song Jamaica Beat Dem Bad. In additon to a cheque for $250,000, she was judged Best Performer for which she received a $40,000 bonus and $15,000 for Facebook’s voters choice.
One of the evening’s more popular contestants, O’Neil ‘Nazzle Man’ Scott had to settle for third place with Still Going Strong. He received $160,000.
Each contestant was presented with a plaque from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.
The other contestants were: Calvin ‘Rasta Keekee’ Wisdom with Jamaica Jah Mek Ya; Denton ‘Monsoon’ Bedward (Bess A Bess); Nester ‘Humility’ Chung (This A Mi Island); Sheldon Howell (Jamaica Mi Love Unu); the duo, Old and New (Reginald Mills and Gregory Allison) with One For All Jamrock; Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Tomlinson (Down in Jamaica); and Ryan Willis with I Love JA.
One of the most exciting and better attended finals in many years, the sound quality was poor. Notwithstanding the poor acoustics, several contestants performed past Festival songs and connected with the large crowd.
Guest artists including last year’s winner, singer/trombonist Everton ‘Peso’ Pessoa and Bescenta turned in enjoyable sets, but it was Tony Rebel who really thrilled with his hits which included Fresh Vegetable and Teach The Children.