Song Fest Draws Cheers And Jeers
The National Song Competition was held on Saturday night at Memorial Park. It is seen as the unofficial kickoff of the September Celebrations – and you could have seen it live at the park or her on Channel 7. Daniel Ortiz was front row for all the fun – and he has this report:…
Daniel Ortiz reporting
The 2013 National Song Competition featured18 artists who provided over 4 hours of entertainment to a Memorial Park crowded with fans who have come to expect a high quality of entertainment from the event.
And they got that consistent quality from a variety of performers, some veterans, some newcomers, but in the end, there could only be 3 winners: and those emerged as Ivan 'TR' Burgess, Kernelle 'Nello Player' Parks, and Jael August.
Nello Player is now the back to back winner in the Patriotic Song Competition. He’s entry 'Da Belize Eh Deh' captivated the audience with its colorful lyrics about Belize and its culture. After the competition, he told us that he was excited about the win. He said that he didn’t expect to win:
Nello Player - 2013 Patriotic Winner
"Overwhelming feeling first of all, this is just me, I think I did an 'ok' performance but the artists are usually hard on themselves. I didn't think I did a first place performance but the crowd spoke and the judges saw something else that I didn't so I uguess I have to accept it. It was good, the experience was great, it was fun out here - a lot of people here. I feel good about the win, a win is a win - the people spoke, the judges spoke - this is a win, I'm accepting it and I feel good - time to enjoy myself now."
His competitor, Wilson Grinage, who is no stranger to the arts, but who has made his first appearance in the competition, came in second with his song, 'Patriotic Pride'.
Wilson Grinage - 2nd Place, Patriotic Category
"I'm happy over all, I really am."
In the carnival category, the competition was heated. It featured the brand names Ernestine Carballo, the 2011 champ; Sharon Martinez, the defending champion; and Ivan 'TR' Burgess.
TR edged both of them out this year, and his rise to the top could have been foretold. In 2011, he was third in a duet with Leslie 'Bastic' Jenkins, and last year he came in second with his song 'Wave the Flag', which also won him the prize money for most popular carnival tune.
This year, his winning piece, 'Kick Off The Carnival', relied on his high energy performance, and the lyrics which focused on Belize’s Jaguars and their historic Gold Cup run.
Ivan 'TR' Burgess - 2013 Carnival Song Winner
"It's a lot of hard work, you know you have to put in sacrifices and take what comes your way. I actually thank God that for accomplishing the goal."
"Tell us, 2011, 2012 and 2013 - what was the transition and how did you clone your skills as an overall artist to be able to produce the song which won tonigh?"
Ivan 'TR' Burgess
"Basically it was sitting down with the current information and things that are going on in the country. Every year I try to come with something a bit different. Like in 2011 I said it was our anniversary with Bastic and I and I wrote the entire song, the second year - I always use the motto. Like I said it's a lot of hard work."
"There were so many variable that you can't account for, the music died down - you had a technical difficulty. Tell us how you sang through that."
Ivan 'TR' Burgess
"I understand that the song competition is to a be a song that is sang straight through without stop and I continued regardless if I couldn't hear myself on the mike and the monitors - I just continued straight through at the top of my voice. When that was happening I know it was happening so I just continued hard and that's when my stomach started hurting me too."
"How does it feel knowing that the judges realize that it wasn't your fault and they still allowed you to win because the song was excellent and the performance was excellent before that technical difficulty?"
Ivan 'TR' Burgess
"I didn't really expect any faults and I know that we came out here for sound check earlier on and there were a couple difficulties from sound check so I wasn't really tripping about it at all."
Ernestine Carballo was second, and was very grateful for that because she had just returned from Chicago a few days ago for the competition. Carballo congratulated the new champ
Ernestine Carballo - 2nd Place, 2013 Carnival Song
"I am very blessed to know that I just came in 4 days and I got second place so imagine Belize. I'm applauding all the contestants that got first place because they really put off a show and a big congratulations to TR because I set the throne and he followed through with it and he came out good and did an awesome job. For everyone that worked with me, I'm just grateful and we did our thing and we did our best. After that whole tour from Chicago, it was rough so definitely next year, if God spares my life, I will come back and with the driving force and I'm going to come back and get it again."
Jael August is one of those young Belizean stars with a wealth of talent that belies her age. The 12 year old is a great performer in the making, who will certainly leave her mark. She is also the winner of the Junior Patriotic Song Category.
Jael August - Winner, Junior Patriotic Song Category
"It was very exciting. Before I went on stage, I have a lot of supporters - I was so excited, I was overwhelmed."
"Was there any part of the performance where you were nervous or already ready and in the game?"
"Well I was nervous at first as I hit the stage but I just waited and it went very well, I enjoyed myself on the stage."
"Every year this song competition gets bigger and we really have to give thanks to NICH for really putting a lot to this every year and putting more into the prize package and more incentives for artist that you're just hearing about coming out of the works, they have good songs and making the competition more stiff."
Because they won their categories, TR and Nello Player were awarded with a $6000 cash prize, a Trophy, a music video production, and the opportunity to represent Belize at a Regional competition. Ernestine Carballo and Wilson Grinage, the second place winners, were awarded with $3000 and a Trophy.
In the junior patriotic song category, Jael won $1500 and a trophy. Second place went to Marlyn Vansen, who won $1,000 cash. All the participants will be given a $200 in recording studio time.
Blowback From Song Competition As you saw in our interview with Nello Player, he told us that he didn’t think that his performance was the winning piece for the night in Patriotic Song competition.
And he’s not the only one who has that opinion; when the winners were announced, there was a large portion of the audience who disagreed, believing that the two best performances came from Wilson Grinage and Reecie Pollard.
Pollard spoke to us today and pointed to several issues which she says suggest a clear slant against to the unknown faces in the competition.
Wilson Grinage - 2nd Place, Patriotic Song Category
"It wasn't fair, honestly. I'm being real here and I'm sorry for whoever might hate me for this but if I had come in second to Reecie Pollard I would have been so happy. But second to someone whose stage performance wasn't up to par as comparisson to Reecie and myself, I'm not hating people - I'm really upset because it's really unfair."
"I was really disappointed because it hurt me so much to know that you go out there and you put your all for a performance, you do everything that was required for the performance and how could somebody with that performance win you when you've given your all? I'm not the best singer in the world, but I know myself - I know I can sing better than anybody because anybody can be selfish. People out there can agree with me, view for yourself - go over and look at the performances and tell me which performance deserved to be first. Also I feel the same way that Wilson feels, I thought the competition would have been between him and I and when Nello Player got it, it was just wrong so I just think it was unfair."
"Tell us about all of these requirements that you fulfilled that you thought you did excellently on?"
Reecie Pollard - Contestant, Patriotic Song Category
"Costume, my stage performance - I made sure the judges heard clearly, the clarity of my voice - I did what I was supposed to do. We should not judge a competition by how well you hold your audience because Nello Player is a well known artist around Belize City and I am just Reecie Pollard - some people might know me from Karaoke, some don't. But if it goes for the audience screaming out, of course he will win because he's more popular than I am. All in all I just want answers from them - what made his performance so much better than mine. The other thing is they made you pick numbers for the competition, I had two picks. I picked the number which was for carnival and he told me to put it back and I picked the other number and I got number 10 and there were only 9 of us in the competition so that would make me the last person. So several contestants didn't show up, if you weren't there - you automatically lost your turn. When it was my turn, I was rehearsing with my dancers then they came to me and told me to go up and I told them I was the last performer. Why I had to on before? Because Nello Player's backup singers didn't get there yet. Most of us use the same back up three singers and if anybody viewed his performance - he didn't have extra backup singers with him on stage - so what made him so special that I had to take his turn and he took mine?"
The judges were Kellie Cadogan, Colville Young Jr., Orson Picart, James Sanker, and Cindy Crawford.
Belize National Song Competition 2013 Highlights
The Belize National Song Competition is an event held every year kicking off the mood for the September Celebrations. It is an event planned by NICH (National Institute of Culture and History), September Celebrations Commission and sponsored by Atlantic International Bank. The event gives Belizean artists an opportunity to showcase new lyrics and original material built around the September Celebrations.
The Belize National Song Competition is broken into 3 different categories, Junior Patriotic Song, Senior Patriotic Song and Carnival Song.
This years winners for the 2013 National Song Competition are:
Jael August - Patriotic Song Competition Junior Category
Nello Player - Patriotic Song Competition Senior Category
TR Shine - Carnival Song Competition