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Stage set for school band contest

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2023 | 12:05 AM

Jamaica’s Best School Band (JBSB) competition, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, will get going on March 16 with some eight schools, inclusive of five newcomers, vying for the main trophy and a $300,000 winner’s purse.

“We are looking forward to an exciting season as the competing schools have been fine-tuning their preparations to give themselves the best chance of winning,” said Rayven Amani, who conceptualised the competition, which has brought several promising young musicians to the fore over the years.

Like in recent years, CHASE Fund and the Edna Manley College are the main sponsors, and the competition continues to get the blessing and support of several major acts, who have been serving as judges and mentors to the young musicians over the years.

“This year, we will be placing a great deal of emphasis on original songs. IRIE Yute Records, who previously signed two singers from the competition to their label, has given us a commitment to record the best of the original songs,” stated Amani, who is quite excited about the level of exposure the youngsters could get from such an opportunity. “We will be producing a video to support that song.”

Among the prizes this year are a recording opportunity for the school with the best original song; $300,000 for the winning band; $200,000 for second place; and $150,000 for the third place winner. The top band will also receive musical instruments from Music Mart.

The eight competing high schools are: Pembroke Hall (Season 1 winner), Papine, St Mary, St Thomas Technical, Belair, May Day, Ferncourt and Lennon.

Amani shared that the goal was to have 12 schools, but some pulled out owing to various challenges.

“However, we are extremely confident that, based on the enthusiasm we are seeing from the schools that are in, it should be a fantastic competition of extremely high quality,” she said.

A school tour was conducted to observe the preparation of the student musicians. During the tour, Seaforth High School, a former winner, was given instruments, which were donated to the JBSB by the Cornwall College Class of 1990.