In wake of Jamaica’s 50th Independence Celebrations last week I’m hoping you have heard a few of the fabulous Jamaican Festival songs. Which leads me to the question of what is a festival song. Well, let’s take a look: the festival itself was initiated in 1962 by then Minister of Community Development and future Prime Minister, Edward Seaga. It was to showcase the literary, fine arts and performing artists. The reality is that the idea is to celebrate “all things Jamaican.”
Over the years the festival has become an integral part of the national development of the Jamaican lifestyle. In short, a way of giving Jamaicans a sense of who they are and also what their culture and history is about. Generally the festival is scheduled for the first Monday in August, to coincide with both the independence and emancipation day celebration and holidays.
The festival overall includes island agricultural exhibitions and street parades, climaxing in a grand gala at Kingston’s National Stadium with other parishes having similar supporting events. The organising group, known as the Jamaica Festival Commission, was established by an act of parliament in 1968, which became the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission by another parliamentary act in 1980.
The festival now includes the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Contest, a national Mento band competition, and also a Gospel song competition. The festival got even wider appeal in 2004, when the JCDC announced a $1 million grand prize to be shared among songwriter, singer and producer of the winning entry. In 2010 the prize purse had risen to include the million dollars and also a car.
Here is the list of Jamaica’s National Festival Song Competition. As always, enjoy the music and let it lead you to a higher place.