Caribbean Youth Fest, the only annual talent competition putting the youth of Saint Lucia and by extension the Caribbean on the forefront, crowned a new Youth Star last month at the Philip Marcelin grounds in Vieux Fort before a mammoth crowd.
In its sixteenth (16) year, Youth Fest organizers have kept steadfast on the development, promotion, and exposure of musical and related talents of aspiring Caribbean Youth. Organizers can claim responsibility for many shining careers in today’s music industry, with many of the household names owing their biggest break to the Youth Fest umbrella.
This year would be no different in the abundance of talent taking to the stage in the quest of claiming the top prize; but before the ever appreciative audience from the south of the island would experience the likes of Islands, Young Vic and Multi, Ti Camo, BreBre and Umpa to name a few, a vigorous audition and training session was held spanning a total of three months. “If we’re going to find the talent, we’re going to find the best and auditioning is just one way.”
Artistes were invited to submit their original content and the best were selected from a variety of genres including Gospel, Dancehall, Reggae, Calypso, Soca, Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, Emerging Creole and Local.
The work didn’t stop there as organizers were adamant on bringing the best product possible to the big stage. The finalists selected attended a comprehensive training workshop facilitated by Mr. Darwin Guard on December 5that the Castries City Hall in an effort to prepare them to deliver a performance that would mirror that of world class standards.
The big day brought on plenty of firsts for the competition. The usual area used for years was no longer available and organizers had to contend with the section reserved for track and field events. Nonetheless, the team, impeccably transformed the area into an all VIP access arena much to the excitement of the Youth Fest faithfuls. An area of the playing field was also sectioned off for children’s activities which included trampolines, bouncing castles and toys.
The reason everyone had braved the scorching sun was that the Youth Star Competition commenced shortly after 4:00p.m.in bright sunshine. Local television network, Choice TV, televised the competition which saw some twenty young artistes competing in two categories. The teens (aged 19 and under) and twenties (aged 20-29) which included two contestants representing the islands of Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Performing in the In the teens’ category were Ezy & Dj Cheng, Dhirv2funny, Sirk, Bre Bre, Lyrical Targe, Ti Camo, Bijoux, Dimitri Leon, Cinque Fevrier, Vault9, Nadz and Sachee, and the trio of Jim Boy, Dollar kidd, Nrc.
The twenties category featured Young C, Drew Thomas, Umpa, Islands, Fanixx, Tin Juice D’artiste, Yung Vic & Multi, Sikka,Sawlty, and Amil& Ta. As the performers sought to outdo each other, a few introduced their own eclectic style and blend of music, but the favoured genre by the vast majority of competitors was the emerging “Dennery Segment” making the judges job one of the most challenging in recent years.
With the sun setting and anticipation of the main headliner, Nialah Blackman, rife, M.C.s Scadydotp and Donnerville together with D.J. Mickey warmed the audience with their witty personalities and on point musical mix. The Southpack Dance group captivated patrons with their sophisticated moves and the N’Vogue models brought sexy to the stage with their creativity.
Just before Nialah Blackman touched the stage Saint Lucian performers Johnelle(past winner), Crown, Shemmy J, Keisha, Cooyah, Vye Twizeen, Nassis, Krome & Bobo and the Extreme Band all rocked the crowd, setting the perfect base for the much anticipated performance.
Nailah Blackman was announced and that sent the entire playing field into a frenzy. Delievering hits such as “Baddish”, “Work Out”, “BailaMami” “Sokah” and “O’LawdOye”, she had every one in attendance singing along. She even teased some new material before bidding the appreciative crowd farewell.
Results were in and the M.C.s wasted no time announcing the winners and prize money payable to each of them. The teen’s category saw Ti Camo winning the $1,500 first place prize and his producer taking home $750.00. In second place was the trio Jimboy, NRC, Dollarkid ; winning In the twenties category, first place was Islands winning himself a $1,500 purse and his producer banking $750.00 Second place was Umpa who won $1,000.00 and the producer of his competitive piece “Siren” receiving$500.00
The overall winner and Youth Star2018 award went to Islands who added $5,000.00 to his earnings and his producer enjoying the spoils of an added $750.00.