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Sweet music fills the air
Excitement filled the air as 24 contestants took part in Music TT’s inaugural showcase for its Artists Portfolio Development Programme held earlier this month.
In the end, 11 participants, consisting of nine individuals and two groups, were chosen to participate in the programme.
The individual practitioners chosen were Chinaka “Chinaka” Pierre, Shannon Zerah Francois, Candice Caton, Radha “Miss Renuka” Mahabir, Daniel Griffith, Leah “DEZii” Skeete, Donald Job, Takeisha Cheryl “VoiceQueen” Huddlin and Keoné “Keoné” Osbourne. The groups chosen were X-A-vier & Black Unity from Tobago, consisting of Xavier Edwards; Dariem Williams, Akeem Alfred, Kalvin Joseph and Arius Dick; and Quattro Musica, composed of Andre Mangatal, Marvin Smith and Stephan Furlonge.
The genres presented ranged from rock to neo-soul to gospel to pop to rap to opera. Initially, there were 250 applicants who were then evaluated by a cadre of local judges before the final 24 were chosen. The competition flowed very easily, with each contestant being allowed two and a half minutes to perform, with the judges giving comments afterwards. The majority of the contestants performed original songs backed by instruments, while a few performed covers, and others performed over pre-recorded tracks. The audience, which packed the venue, was vociferous in its praise of the talent on display.
The other contestants were Aaron Ifill, Anthon “Mikaiel” Gonzales, Faola “Fay Ola” Rigault, Jasmine “Yaminé” Adams, Kadija “Ms. Dija” Jeremiah, Karen “KarenMaria” Francisco, Keron “Cory KayCe” Cawford, Keylon Whitlock, Omavi “Omavi” Langevine, Salisha “Salisha” Stanley, Tracy Tuitt, Zachary de Lima and Sidekick Envy, comprised of Logan Tang, Scott Homer, Jonathon Agostini and Nicholas Thomas.
The international judges were Head of All Creative Licensing, Label/Publishing, Lava Music Group, Jill Pedone; Marcus Spence of Mosley Music Group; Senior Manager TV & Film Licensing, Universal Music Canada, Jennifer Hyland; VP Creative, Entertainment One Music Publishing, Sean Mulligan; and, producer Kosine, half of the Los Angeles-based production duo Da Internz.
Two performances which had the judges and the audience in awe were by Griffith and Huddlin. Griffith’s original composition, Mrs Heartbreaker, which he performed with guitar, had everyone asking “where did that voice come from?” Spence said Griffith’s voice was phenomenal, while Kosine said his voice and tone were a gift. Mulligan said the song had a 50s vibe, which reminded him of a sort of innocence as the performer poured his heart out to the one that got away. He was called back to the stage at the end of the showcase so the judges could hear him again and verify that what they had heard had been accurate.
Huddlin’s cover of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind had the audience screaming from first note to last with the raw power of her voice. The judges were visibly impressed with Marcus saying he was speechless, while Kosine jumped on stage to hug her.
Also of note were gospel singer Donald Job, whom the judges praised for his stage presence and audience interaction during his performance of his original song, Experience, and tenor group Quattro Musica, whose cover of the Tenors’ Lead With Your Heart drew praise for their passion, amazing voices and their package as a group.
At the end of the showcase, all the judges said they were blown away by the musical talent on show. They advised all contestants to keep working on their craft. Pedone said coming on stage took guts and encouraged them to keep finding their inspiration. Spence said all the performers were great artists and that T&T was a melting pot of talent. Hyland said there’s no lack of talent in T&T and reminded the contestants what hadn’t been selected that “God’s delay is not God’s denial,” so they shouldn’t give up. Mulligan said T&T has a lot of fantastic music to offer the world stage.
Music TT General Manager, Jeanelle Frontin, said this does not mean that the development for the other artistes stops here, “it’s just that a little more development needs to take place in the Music Export Academy. She said the judges’ comments would be passed on to the participants for them to follow up on. Music TT is going to do everything in its power to ensure our music and these artists touch the world.”