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The Jamaica Festival Song Competition
The 2020 Edition!

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jamaica festival song competitionJamaica Festival Song Competition 2020

The Jamaica Festival Song Competition 2020
By Deon Clarke | Associate Writer 

It’s Festival time again yeah!! The 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition this year has been a buzz and rightly so.  Hats off to the organizers of the event this year who certainly succeeded in their efforts to bring back the love and excitement of this traditional celebration that was seeming to lose its audience.

The JCDC and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange left no stone unturned to revive the festival spirit and make this a success for 2020, even with the covid19 coronavirus pandemic.

See Also: How Did Jamaica Gain Independence?


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Before I get to the “big reveal”, I want to take you down memory lane so you can truly understand and appreciate the importance of this phenomenal event.

When Did The Festival Song Competition Start in Jamaica?

Prior to 1990, The Jamaica Festival Song Competition or the “Popular Song Competition” as it’s sometimes called was originally called The Independence Festival Song Competition.

It was first held in 1966 and as a tribute in celebration of our independence in 1962.  The idea was born from the most honourable former prime minister Edward Seaga, who felt it was important for Jamaicans to develop and maintain a cultural heritage. 

This cultural expression did not disappoint in showcasing some of Jamaica’s finest performing artistes.  This competition is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Jamaica’s independence celebrations.

Be sure to check out our article below to see all the popular winning festival songs since 1966. https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaica-festival-songs-popular-winning-songs-since-1966.html

You will notice, by the way, that the competition was suspended in the years 2013 and 2017 as the entries were just not reflective of the standards for this esteemed event. 

The year 2020 however is one that I’m sure will stand out in your memory for a while with the likes of popular artistes such as Freddie McGregor, Buju Banton, Toots & The Maytals, Shuga and L.U.S.T. 

What Was The Song Selection Process For 2020?

Over 250 songs were entered in the competition, and all went through a rigorous shortlisting process which practically took an entire day by expert judges in different areas of relevance to arrive at the top 10 selection. 

Without knowing who the contestants were, they were given a number for each song and listened intently for the standard requirements that would qualify each for selection.

They then grade each one out of 20 and the process was repeated until the final 10 were determined.

Based on the songs that were selected however, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that they did an awesome job!

The final decision though would be left in the hands of the public by voting!

And The Top 10 Were....

  1. Xtra Bigg -  Jamaica A Paradise
  2. Papa Michigan -  Jamaica Dance
  3. Buju Banton -    I am a Jamaican
  4. Nazzle Man  -  Jamaica Nice
  5. Shuga  -  One People
  6. Toots & The Maytals -   Rise Up Jamaicans
  7. Radix OD  -  The Place To Be
  8. Freddie McGregor -  Tun Up Di Sound
  9. L.U.S.T.  -    Wave Di Flag
  10. Sakina –   I Am Jamaica

Who Won The Jamaican Festival Song Competition For 2020?

And the performances by these top 10 were superb, exceptional! 

I personally think it could have been anybody’s game to claim that top spot and cash prize of $3 million!

With only two performance shows and limited audience due to Covid-19, the energy was real with social media lit up locally and internationally, everyone’s favourite songs were on the tip of their tongues. 

But though they are all winners in their own rights, there could only be one official winner.

Buju Banton with "I am a Jamaican", copped the coveted number one spot and prize. Though I had my own personal favourite, I think, lol-  they were all so good. 

He really did justice with his entry and was a well-deserved win. 

Remember...

...to see the FULL list of all our past festival song winners and their song, see this article.

The Future of The Jamaica Festival Song Competition

What’s next for the Jamaican Festival Song Competition? From here on, in my opinion, it can only get better and better. The momentum has been built up, the festival spirit is back and its popularity just needs to be maintained, especially with the use of social media so it can continue to be great as it was in the past!

By the way, we have the FULL PLAYLIST of the Top 10 in video for you, courtesy of YouTube, just click below and enjoy.

VIDEO! Jamaica Festival Song Competition | The Top 10

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Sources & References for Jamaica Festival Song Competition 2020

  1. https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaica-festival-songs-popular-winning-songs-since-1966.html
  2. https://jis.gov.jm/buju-banton-wins-jamaica-festival-song-competition/
  3. https://www.jcdc.gov.jm/competitions/jamaica-festival-song-competition
  4. https://jis.gov.jm/minister-grange-transforms-festival-song-competition-into-a-global-event/
  5. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20170709/jamaicas-festival-song-competition-watered-down-and-diluted

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