It is said that one cannot make a comparison based on one particular thing or experience, and this is the sentiment that I share for YouthFest 2013. I cannot conclude like the many others that it was the best ever, but the talent which was on display on the night was of a caliber that suggest that Saint Lucia’s youth are definitely blessed in terms of talent, a fact that has been stated and reiterated for many years.
This year YouthFest promised to be bigger, better and served with a difference. It would also see the realization of the initial vision for YouthFest, which was to integrate other islands into the competition, made possible with the participation of contestants from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
I attended the event which was held on Sunday at its usual OMS Tennis Court venue in Vieux Fort. For whatever reason, the show began later than planned, typically Lucian I must add. With nearly one hour of the allotted time gone, the show commenced with contestants from the junior category (0-13). Only two contestants competed in this category. Ashly Jules, who opened the event, delivered a very confident vocal presentation, while Stephy Harrigan exuded composure with her melodious, tender voice. Both of the infant performers did sing very well and it was fitting that they both ended up as winners.
The confidence and keenness shown by the juniors was definitely carried on by the following contestants in the teens (14-19) and twenties (20-29) categories. Performing to what had gradually become a great turnout, the competitors in these categories presented songs from a diverse range of genres including, rap, hip hop, rhythm and blues, pop, dancehall and gospel. The audience demonstrated their support and screamed in recognition of their favorite tunes.
Also among the crowd, were some very proud and buoyant Vincentians. Making their journey from the neighboring island, they enjoyed themselves and were in good voice the entire show, waving their flags and supporting loudly. The Vincy participants also exhibited good vocal ability, as they performed hip hop and R&B numbers.
The STAR managed to speak to the liveliest Vincentian fan on the night, who had done everything he possibly could to show his encouragement. Dancing, shouting, waving his flag, “dialoging” with the M-Cs and even invading the stage on one instance. When he was able to barely catch his breath he exclaimed: “Boy, I is a Vincy, ’an ah cum to show my people them my support”.
This year for the very first time at the event was the inclusion of a dance competition. Vying for the prize and bragging rights of best dance crew were four groups, which included one from Saint Vincent. Each crew wowed the onlookers with their routines, moves, tricks and skills, but in the end the group Twisted from Saint Lucia was victorious.
As the show progressed, the crowd was entertained by local guest acts such as Meshack, Alpha, Dupes, Deashan and Ali Kyat. Fashion enthusiasts were also catered for, as Imani and En Vogue Model Agencies displayed their unique and imaginative creations, which portrayed creativity and ingenuity.
Towards the end of the show saw the climax of the event, which was the party session. Dubbed the ‘Soca Party’, the crowd was entertained with appearances by Marianne, Mongstar, and the reigning Soca Monarchs of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent, Ricky T and Skinny Fabulous.
All in all, YouthFest 2013 was a great show. The event once again highlighted the fact that Saint Lucia has a plethora of talent that requires legitimate avenues in order to be sufficiently developed.
All of the participants on the night gave their best in terms of performance and attire, and the contestants who came out victorious were definitely the ones who placed emphasis on their song selection, and hence were able to deliver them comfortably. Because of this, they received the greatest crowd response, which was ultimately pivotal to their success.
The winners on the night were as follows: in the junior category, in second place was Ashly Jules and first place Stephy Harrigan. In the teen category, in second place was Dawnlyn Bynoe from Saint Vincent and first place went to Alex ‘Sawlty’ Klein. And in the twenties category, coming in second was Adrian ‘Dri Notes’ Klein; the first place winner and the recipient of the overall award of Youth Star for YouthFest 2013 was no other than Arnold ‘AJ’ Jules.
On winning, Jules grabbed the microphone and lavished his thanks onto the Almighty Father. The young ‘born again’ gospel star who had virtually the best stage presence and crowd response, engaged them with “Everybody say Jesus!”
The STAR congratulated AJ on being the winner of his category and being successful at obtaining the Youth Star Award. He had this to say: “ I just want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ, because without him this wouldn’t have been possible for me”.
YouthFest PRO Jackie Cherubin-Weekes stated was delighted with the event.
“Youth Fest … went to another level this year. In terms of the participants, I think they definitely gave it their best. They placed a lot of effort into their wardrobe and performance, and the talent was of a very high standard from both islands.”