Kingston, Jamaica — April 2021 (Powerhouse Global Media/Acclaim PR) — Garfield McCook has launched the Jamaica International Independence Festival Song Competition (JIIFSC) as a way of continuing Jamaican cultural events abroad. The inaugural staging of the USA-based competition is set to bring more opportunities for overseas Jamaican artists, who do not typically have a chance to participate in the events being hosted in Jamaica.
McCook, an artist who goes by the name of Gary G and hails from Harbour View, migrated to the United States in the late 80’s. He says, “In 2017, I enquired about entering the Jamaica Festival Song Competition. However, the rules and regulations stated that an entrant must be living in Jamaica 2 years prior to entering the competition. Since I was residing in the USA, the rule automatically eliminated me.”
“I reached out to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission via email asking them to explain the rationale behind the rule, but I received no response. I reached out again in 2018 and received no response. I then investigated the possibility of having a competition that Jamaicans living abroad could enter,” McCook explained.
JIIFSC will be an annual event and is open to Jamaicans, 18 years and older, who reside outside of Jamaica. Artists can get involved, by completing an application on the JIIFSC.com website by May 15, 2021. When submitting the application artistes are required to pay a non-refundable entrance fee of US$150. They must upload their song in a MP3 format, and email a lyrics sheet to email@example.com.
Slated to take place on July 31, 2021, the premier competition will be broadcasted virtually from 7pm to 10pm EST across multiple digital platforms. There will be a limited live audience, including guest appearances, judges and promoters, at the venue, which is Caribbean Life TV Studios (CLTV Studios) in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Artists who may not have an MP3 ready can submit the application and fee by May 15, 2021. An MP3 can follow and be submitted by May 31, 2021. Groups can be 2-4 members and songs should be no longer than 4 minutes in length. Top participants can expect grand incentives, with the first, second and third prizes being US $8,000, US $4,000 and US $1,000 respectively.
“The aim of this competition is to provide Jamaican artistes residing overseas, who still have a penchant for the culture and the music, with a platform that allows them to showcase their talents. Our motto is, ‘Loving You From Afar.’ Part proceeds from profits received will go towards the enhancement of the cultural activities in Jamaica,” McCook added.