The Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) said it is encouraged by the initial response from musicians to the Bahamas Carnival Song Competition. Musicians have expressed excitement over the opportunity to boost their careers and the possibility of securing one of the cash prizes offered.
The commission announced the song competition at a press conference on April 28.
Bahamian music artists have a chance to compete for $50,000 in cash prizes and worldwide promotion of their song makes the cut for the compilation album of the top 25 songs.
The year-long contest will culminate in an all-star Bahamian concert during the Bahamas Carnival in May 2015.
Singer Wendi Lewis said she believes the competition will raise the bar among Bahamian artists.
“As a young Bahamian woman I feel blessed to be a part of contributing to the heritage of our music. The music industry is so male-dominated and the song competition will give young up and coming female artists a chance to come forward to showcase their talent. There are many dynamics to the artistry of Bahamian music, and the competition will allow us to display our talents from that perspective as well,” she said.
Veteran local musician Geno D said: “I think it’s a great idea and a great platform that will spark some new creativity among artists. On the international stage we are competing with other countries that have a definitive sound and we need to have our own unique sound. With the song competition we have a greater opportunity to brand our sound to the world.”
Musicians have until July 7 to submit their applications and produce up to three new songs for the competition. The winner of the competition will receive a cash award of $20,000. The first runner-up will receive $12,500; the second runner-up $7,500, and the third runner-up, $4,000.
The remaining six finalists will receive $1,000 each. The top 25 songs will be produced as a compilation album and distributed locally and globally. Composers and writers will retain the copyright and publishing rights (intellectual properties) of their song.
Several veteran musicians and upcoming artists said they plan to accept the challenge to write, produce and create original music that will propel Bahamian artistry to a higher level.
“As a producer and Bahamian artist, the song competition is something that is needed that will give us the platform to address what is Bahamian music,” said Dillon “D-MAC” McKenzie, writer of the popular song, “Dog Don’t Bark At Parked Car”.
“Entertainers and engineers will get the opportunity to compete for something substantial and that is a motivation in itself to invest in producing good quality music. I’m extremely excited to be a part of the competition and the possibilities of other avenues that will get Bahamian musicians more international airplay.”
The Bahamas has a rich musical heritage with pioneers such as Joseph Spence, George Symonette, Exuma and Blind Blake all achieving global acclaim. They were followed most recently by the Grammy Award-winning Baha Men.
“We are hoping to provide the stage and opportunity to our music industry as never seen before, where all genres of our music can be experienced and produced at a very high quality level. Through hard work and creativity we are confident that more of our rich Bahamian music will hit the international stage like Funky Nassau and Baha Men have been successful in achieving before,” said Paul Major, chairman of the Bahamas National Festival Commission.
“From the very outset of our planning, the commission recognised that music would play a pivotal role in the success of our festival. The song competition is the kind of stimulus that will invigorate the industry. It will stimulate a new wave of creativity, advance the branding of a Bahamian sound, and help to promote Bahamian artists locally and globally.”
Percy Sweeting, president of the Bahamas Musicians and Entertainers Union, said the industry, which has over 100 Bahamian artists and musicians, will be the beneficiary of worldwide promotion and exposure. He encouraged artists to take advantage of the opportunity.