With The September celebrations just around the corner, Belizeans have been preparing for a colorful month of parades and dancing. One of the most important activities leading up to the seemingly endless festivities is the National Song Competition put on by the National Institute of Culture History, Atlantic International Bank and National Celebrations Commission. It sets the stage for the coming month, this year’s celebrations were themed “Industrious Hands, Intelligent Minds together for Belize.”
This year’s “Intelligent Minds” showed great creativity and patriotism in their song lyrics and many had red white and blue costumes and were proudly waving Belize flags. On Saturday, August 9th, singers countrywide came out to express their love for Belize through song and dance. They presented original compositions and competed in three categories. Junior and senior Belize song and Carnival.
The evening was filled with loads of family friendly fun and great entertainment celebrating our beautiful Belize.This was the sixth year and the party was packed with Belizeans from near and far, as many fans came from other districts to cheer on their favorite talent. Memorial Park in Belize City quickly came alive as eighteen performers wowed the crowd and the judges. We saw performances by four juniors, eight in the Belize Song category, and six in the Carnival Song Category. The Gillharry 7, also known as the G7 band from Corozal and MC Dillon Jones of Universal Radio in Orange walk were also a continuous and enjoyable part of the evening’s entertainment.[slideshow_deploy id=’31083’]
A bit about show organizers:
National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) envisions “A Belize that embraces its diverse cultural heritage, promotes understanding and appreciation of its people, and ensures their growth and development in a global community”
Atlantic International Bank strives to create an environment of empowerment, respect, meaningful participation and growth. They are actively involved in the development of the communities they serve.
National Celebrations Commission supports history and cultural diversity with important annual events: The Queen of the Bay Pageant, Carnival Parade, St. George’s Caye Day Citizens Parade, Expo, Official Independence Day Celebrations, and live musical concerts.
Memorial park was the perfect venue, offering a packed house, great people watching and lots of space. It was nice to see everyone having a great time.
Fans were out on numbers and some handcrafted signs to cheer for their favorite singers, as was the case with Roxana Alcoser from Orange Walk District.
As I walked around the park it was clear the kids were having a blast. With a strong focus on youth at the San Pedro Red Cross, I have a new appreciation for events like the song competition. The second picture below is a good example of how these events can provide kids with future direction. When I saw the girl in the blue dress thoughtfully studying Carnival Queen Ernestine Carballo and working on her dance moves, I knew she had the potential for a creative future. Long live September Celebrations and love seeing the youth take an interest in preserving history and culture through song, music, and dance.
Onto the performers, there were so many talented Belizean artists and several great costumes. Below are some performer pictures I took throughout 3h the event. I really enjoyed having all access at the competition, it was fun being back stage and capturing the excitement as the performers headed out for their big moment. Big shout out to the night’s performers. Everyone did a fantastic job.
See more great pictures of the evening’s events by Will Moreno Photography on Talented Belizean Artists took to the stage at the 2014 Belize National Song Competition blog post.[slideshow_deploy id=’31087’]
Of course, another highlight of the night for me was the food. Long before I arrived I started to daydream of what delicious treats I might find. My first choice was the Buff Package 🙂 but since I was ordering late, I ended up with the scaled down version Italian sausage on a stick. It was so yummy that I immediately went back for seconds.
Just as I was finishing up my food Dillon started announcing the winners, the moment we had all been waiting for. I quickly finished up and headed back to the press area at the front of the stage for pictures.
The winners received fabulous cash prizes and trophies. The big first place prize was- $6000, a trophy, a music video, and an opportunity to represent Belize in the Region. Second place winner took home $3000 and a trophy. Juniors first place winner got $1,500 and a trophy, second place $1000 and a trophy. The People’s choice and Breakout Artist of the year received $500 each.
Official National Institute of Culture and History Belize National Song competition 2014 winners:
Belize Song Junior category:
1. Cecil Jenkins Jr. Pocono Bouy
2. Tara Gill- Carnival Brukdong gory
Belize Song Sr. Category
1. Kernelle Nello Player Parks – Real Belizean.
2. Ernestine Carballo – Celebration Again.
Carnival Song Sr.
1. Ivan “TR Shine” Burgess – Borderline
2. Ernestine Carballo – Carnival di Come.
This year, two New categories were added The People’s Choice for the song with the most votes online and the Breakout Artist of the year, which was selected by the judges as an artist with great potential.
1. People’s Choice Belize Song – Nello Player
2. People’s Choice Carnival – TR Shine
Break Out Star
Break Out Star Belize Song – Shameeka Moir and Earlyn Hutchinson – Not My Day
Break Out Star Carnival- Leslie “Mr. Bastic” Jenkins – Big Truck
You can read more about the winners on ctv3belizenews.com, post.[slideshow_deploy id=’31086’]
The show was not quite over yet. After the awards and cash prizes were handed out. Winners Nello Player and TJ Shine took the stage again.
Many had bus rides ahead of them to go back to their districts or hotels. Marcia from Atlantic Bank had offered me a ride back to my Hotel, but I wanted to catch the last songs and because he was so nice, I promised my taxi driver Manuel I would call for pickup. He showed up fast and met me at our prearranged spot. On the way to the event he had taken me on the scenic route and on the way back we took the fast option. After I paid, he waited while I unlocked the front gate door at Bella Sombra Guest House and made sure I was safe inside before driving away.
Travel tip: If you have to go to an evening event ask your cab driver how late he is working and arrange to call him at the end of the night for a safe ride back to your hotel. If you ever need a good evening Belize City Taxi call Manuel 637-3529