The talent was exceptional and the cheers loud as several youngsters sang their way into the hearts of many over the weekend.
The young people were: Aleeka Hinds-Orisawayi, Naeem Phillips, Adariah Walcott, Dondria Forde, Jasiah Moore, Tavon Boyce, Johnathan Dowlat, Chelsea Cadogan-Goddard, Joshua Osbourne, Kenola Greenidge, Skyy Dowridge and Shaneka George. Singing a range of genres, each of the youngsters took centre stage and showed-off their vocal prowess, dynamic stage presence, and other skillsets gained and improved upon over the five days of workshops.
The workshop training sessions included Mindset Prep, Vocal Anatomy and You, Vocal Warm-up, Ear Training Assessment, Introduction to Scales, Arpeggios, Major and Minor Patterns, Genre Nuances, Goal setting, Movement for Song; diction, projection and inflections; confidence and audience engagement as well as note selection and harmony.
The presenters of the workshops were: Maachelle Farley, Jessica Hunte, Marilyn Smith, Derek Marshall, Rhesa Garnes, Shameka Walters, Marlon Legall, Renee Taylor, Lisa Howell and Gaynelle Marshall.
One of the participants, 18-year-old Tavon Boyce who sang Gabby’s Well Done, had much praise for the programme and the benefits he achieved. While he had always been told he had a “good voice”, Boyce maintained that the programme not only assisted him as a vocalist but it challenged him to be a better all-round performer. That’s why he was hopeful the workshops could be extended, possibly to run over an entire summer.
“They were so good. Look at what we did today and that’s what we gained in five days. . . . It helped me to ‘pull back’, where I sing and I get overly creative with my songs. I was told that it can be a little excessive and it takes away from the emotion and the quality of sound. Yes, it sounds good but it can sound a bit overbearing.
“So, I was really glad for that tip and it helped me. . . . Just seeing and feel the emotion, the runs and everything, the creativity will come once you set yourself and ground yourself in emotion that is the song and you deliver to the audience then you’re set,” the excited youngster said.
Eleven-year-old Skyy is small in stature and shy off stage, but she shined and commanded the attention of all in earshot with a thrilling rendition of the local favourite Love Is The Key by Charmain Heyliger. She said it was through her involvement in the workshop that that confidence had been able to blossom.
“I would say it helped me with my confidence, how to read music, my performance and other skills. I had a lot of fun with everyone but I really love Marlon and Maachelle, they helped me a lot,” Skyy said.
In addition, Shaneka, who sang the gospel number Alabaster Box, maintained her belief that the programme is a necessary foundation. She said that having been exposed to instruction in such areas as major and minor keys, this new found knowledge had helped her to better her craft.
She said: “Alabaster Box was a song I sang before, but I struggled with it a lot until I came to this [programme] not knowing that I was actually an alto when I thought I was a soprano. . . . So, this is something that I believe that if you’re willing to work, you will experience a lot, it’s only a week, but you can learn a lot from it.”
NCF music officer and the workshop’s co-ordinator, Aisha Butcher, said the programme was intended to give the youngsters, who range from ages 11 to 21, more insight into varied aspects of performing.
She explained that members of the group, who were scouted after various performances, were identified as being naturally talented singers so the programme was intended to take them to another level, outside of a competition, with lots of learning, execution and repetitive practice.
“From Monday, right up until yesterday (Friday) we would have gone through the . . . mental part of it, which is definitely important, the foundational stuff, we did some ear training assessments and worked all the way up to then finally get them on the stage. Our presenters gave really good presentations.
“We looked at diction, stage craft, movement for song, and that was one of the most insightful sessions because they thought they would have to operate as a dancer, which is not the case, there are certain subtle things that you can do to impact your performance so that was made known to them and they executed that today,” she pointed out.
Butcher said the training should help participants take their talents to another level.
“Additionally, in the latter two days, all of what they learnt, they had to do it on their own without being prompted. So it allowed for you to become a leader in your mind and your body. “My hope is that they take all of the information, make it stick, internalise it, and keep practicing it in whatever forum they go in to whether it be competition or entertainment. Some of them have songs as well, and all of training helps to take their singing to the next level,” the NCF music officer said.