One of the biggest music competitions in Belize, the National Song Competition, kicks off the September Celebrations with live music, vibrant costumes and energetic Belizean artists all on one fun stage! The competition, sponsored by the National Institute of Culture and History, the September Celebrations Committee, and Atlantic International Bank, is extremely unique as it celebrates Belize and encourages originality since all songs submitted have to be original songs created by Belizean artists. Pretty cool, huh?
Here’s how the competition is broken down:
Belize Song- Songs should reflect Belizean culture and inspire devotion for Belize
Carnival Song- Songs should express merriment of Carnival and the September celebrations
Junior Category – Artists 17 and younger
People’s Choice – Artists who garner the most online votes
Breakout Artist – Artist whose performance stood out and who is participating in the BNSC for the first time
This year, there were three regional competitions held in Punta Gorda, San Ignacio and Belize City that took place before the finals. At the end of it all, 18 contestants advanced to the final round of the competition which was held in Belize City on the 14 August 2015.
Regional Eliminations Collage
All eighteen contestants performed live accompanied by the infamous Gilharry 7 Band. As the band began to play for the night there was no doubt that the crowd was in for a great show. The party was on!
The youngest upcoming artists of Belize opened the show. Belize has budding talent and competitions like this only help foster and grow that talent. Check out the “twins” Rushay and Rushawn representing Dangriga and Bianca Figueroa, representing northern Belize, Corozal. It was Ms. Bianca Figueroa won first place with her song “Moving Forward”. Kudos to young talent!
Jr Song Collage
This year, there were 9 songs competing to be the winning Belize Song. These were the songs that should have sent shivers up your spine and sparked a true love for Belize, and that they did. There was a mix of sweet soothing songs, like Deandra Arthur’s “We are Belizeans” and exciting songs like Wilson Grinage’s “ Sweet Belize.”
Collage Belize Song
The song that won the judges and the crowd was a “bruk dong” tribute to Mista Peters! (Don’t know who he is? Well you better look him up!). Cecil Jenkins Jr., reigning Junior Champ, had a VIP crowd performing with him which included the legend, Mista Peters himself, Philip Goldson, Said Musa and even PM Dean Barrow. It’s no wonder he stole the show and won first place in the Belize Song Category. Queue the confetti and noisemakers!
Carnival Song Collage
In the end, the Carnival Song Competition was extremely tight. Second place actually went to a first-time participant, Barbara Herrera, who gave the veterans a run for their money/music! She made a grand entrance on stage and a grand entrance into the world of Belizean Music. We’re looking forward to big things from her; mark our words. You heard it here first.
Queen of Soca, the infamous, Ernestine Carballo won the judges over with her exuberant performance. It was only fitting to have the queen leave with a bang since Ernestine announced that this would be her last year in the competition. She’s making way for new artists. The BNSC will miss her dearly, but she has set the bar high and she’ll be everywhere this September, including London!
The Soca Queen herself, Ms. Ernestine Carballo, really blew the crowd away with her vibrant performance, winning first place in the Carnival Song Category.
“This is why we do it,” says Marcia, Atlantic International’s Banks Marketing Manager, “We do it so that veterans and newbies alike, young and old, have the opportunity to showcase the incredible talent little Belize has to offer. They are the future of the industry and the ones who will tell the world who Belize is through music. Every single year the competition just keeps getting better. We are so proud to be on the sidelines of Belize’s history.”
By the end of the night, it was impossible not to be ready for September! We’re ready to “jump up” and wave our red, white, and blue flags to the sounds of our very own Belizean artists.
Write up by Dora Paz-Guerra
Photo Credits: Alejandro Tovar and Will Moreno. Videos by Alejandro Tovar.
If you plan to overnight in Belize City and are looking for mid-range priced accommodations, check out Bella Sombra, it is, safe clean comfortable and quiet.