The NIFCA Music Finals, the first of the 2023 NIFCA Performing Arts Finals, started with a bang offering patrons a night of amazing performances and an exciting showcase of talent.
The 22 finalists competed in two categories – junior and adult non-professional – faced the judges in a bid to win a gold, silver, or bronze award, or one of the special awards, doing so in spectacular fashion from start to finish.
The soloists, choirs, and musicians all ably demonstrated the tradition of excellence that NIFCA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is known for, with many performing songs from Barbadians artistes, some with new arrangements. There were also a few original compositions.
Like previous years, the singers dominated but the musicians and instrumentalists such as the Christ Church Foundation School’s Steel Orchestra, the newly formed St. Cyprian’s Boys Band, Haynesville Youth Club, Christ The King Boomwhackers who make music by beating cylindrical tubes against their legs, and saxophonists Jonathan Jordan and Nikhyl Burnett, playing Saving All My Love For You and In Christ Alone, respectively, held their own.
Christ Church Foundation School Steel Orchestra gave exuberant performances of Tribute to De Doctor (Cultural Ambassador, The Most Honourable Anthony The Mighty Gabby Carter’s classics Well Done and Emmerton TNT Soca Medley (Lord Kitchener’s Pan In A Minor, Farmer Nappy’s Hookin Meh and Olatunji’s Engine Room) and the young members of Haynesville Youth Club’s hands beat a fast and energetic pace on their djembe drums in Riddum and Tempo 1, an ode to their African ancestry. In Riddum and Tempo 2, a smaller unit playing traditional drums, paid homage to Barbadian tuk music.
Also in that genre, St. Cyprian’s Boys Band thrilled with their spouge and tuk-fused rendition of Cultural Ambassador, The Most Honourable Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire’s Something’s Happening and an original song 246, and Christ The King Boomwhackers were applauded for their performance of I’m Alive, also by the noted entertainer.
St Luke’s Academy Choir sang an original song titled Climb Every Mountain, St Bartholomew Primary School Choir’s selection was Buggy Nakente’s Just A Man, Coleridge & Parry School Choir performed Sherry Ann Maughan’s Winner and Rihanna’s Lift Me Up in the first and second halves respectively.
The Cyptones’ sang De Conkie Song, an adaptation of 2022 Tune of the Crop winner Bruce Lee Almightee’s Mauby, MLVP Elite Vox’s performed Nina Simone’s Four Women and John King’s classic How Many More, while Kirk Franklin Love Theory was Ellerslie School Choir choice.
Soloists performing original songs were Arlington Daniel with Los Barbados and Athalia Crump who shared Like the Eagle and Island Life, two of the 100 songs she’s composed, with the NIFCA audience.
While Scotiabank Junior Soca Monarch Shontae Alleyne-Clarke who, in addition to singing her winning 2023 tune Bajan Ting to close the show, showed her versatility in her rendition of the late Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All in the first half, both winners of the 2023 Richard Stoute Teen Talent and Over-21 contests, Skyy Dowridge and Kibibi Greenidge respectively, were among the soloists.
Dowridge sang Charmaine Heyliger Love is The Key and Greenidge, who also won the Spirit of the Nation Talent Show had two entries – Nina Simone’s Feeling Good and The Clock, popularized in Barbados by the late Carlyn Leacock.
Jaleesa Greaves, a former Teen Talent Winner sang Rihanna’s Stay and Hallelujah. Jedidah Graham, who placed second in this Spirit of the Nation Talent Show sang For Every Mountain, and third placed Relissa Mitcham in the same contest, a 2023 Scotiabank Junior Monarch semifinalist and student of Deighton Griffith Secondary School, sang calypsonian Chrystal Cummins-Beckles’ Fly On De Wall.
The other soloists were nine-year-old Rachel Carter who performed CeCe Winans’ Worthy of It All, Dacia Moore, who also attends Deighton Griffith Secondary, sang the folk classic Emmerton, and the late Dacosta Allamby’s granddaughter ZZ Cumberbatch sang The Merrymen’s Beautiful Barbados and Marvin Sapp’s Thank You For It All.