The Jamaica Festival Song Competition for 2020 “tun all the way up”. The Various Artiste compilation album of the 10 songs in this year’s finals has made its grand debut on the iTunes Top 100 Reggae Albums chart. The set, titled Jamaica Festival 2020 Song Competition, which was released on July 3, has already moved up from number 15 to number 13, and expectations are for it to enjoy further upward trajectory. Additionally, Buju Banton’s song from the album, I am a Jamaican, broke into the iTunes Top 100 Reggae Singles chart, and was sitting at number 83 up to press time.
This is the first time that the Festival songs have been shared with the world on this level, and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange, who spearheaded this groundbreaking initiative, could hardly contain her joy when she spoke to The Gleaner on Tuesday.
“I am so very excited,” she said gleefully. “I knew if we did everything the right way we would be successful. Now, the sky is the limit,” the minister added.
Available on multiple platforms
On July 1, the ministry made the announcement that the songs would be available on Amazon, Spotify, and other online platforms. Minister Grange revealed that for the first time in the history of the competition, the entries were on pre-order on iTunes, Apple Music and Amazon Music services.
The songs, which are being distributed by VPal Music, were available for download or streaming on Spotify and Deezer as of Friday, July 3. The album making its way on the chart is an indication of its sales activity and popularity. “All finalists will earn royalties and the JCDC will also benefit. Jamaica to the world, one more time!” Minister Grange told The Gleaner. The finalists in the 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition include reggae icons Freddie McGregor, Toots & The Maytals and Buju Banton, as well as popular artistes Papa Michigan, Nazzle Man and LUST (featuring Lukie D, Thriller U, Singing Melody & Tony Curtis), Rising Stars winner Shuga, upcoming dancehall artistes Xtra Bigg and Radix OD, as well as the actress and television presenter, Sakina.
Freddie McGregor, while quite ecstatic, said he wasn’t surprised that the album debuted on iTunes. “I honestly expected that. I have said, if the diaspora supports the CD they will have a hard time holding it back, because we are nuff and powerful. However I am very grateful, and we are promoting it non-stop. Hope it goes all the way,” he told The Gleaner.
Another finalist, Papa Michigan, said,“I am very excited. It has grabbed the attention of the diaspora. It is great that the songs are on iTunes chart to attract the world and will be played beyond just the Festival season, like Bam Bam and those other big Festival songs. Big up Minister Grange and all of the contestants.”
The move to make the Jamaica Festival Song entries available on music-downloading and streaming services is part of Minister Grange’s initiative to revitalise Jamaica Festival.
Commenting on the development at the time, she said: “This will make the songs available worldwide and what it will do is expand the stage; the world is now our stage for the Jamaica Festival Song Competition. Jamaica Festival used to ignite the country and bring the nation together in such a beautiful way. We want to bring back that feeling of national unity and hope. We have made tremendous strides, but we have more to do.”
In keeping with restrictions on public gatherings owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual islandwide road shows and public performances by the Festival Song finalists will not be held this year. Instead, the ministry has engaged national radio and television stations, and has been using social media to bring the finalists and their entries to the public.
A performance show featuring all 10 finalists was held last Sunday, and the final show will be held on July 26. The winning Jamaica Festival Song for 2020 will be decided by popular vote.