by Kimberley Cummins
Sherece Chandler mashed up the Plantation Garden Theatre last night.
From early she left no doubts that she intended to be crowned winner of the fifth preliminary of the Richard Stoute Teen Talent contest.
Many members of the audience remarked that they had not witnessed such a passionate performance in a long time. The tall, slender lass was very unassuming but when she belted out just two lines of Whitney Houston’s Saving All My Love the audience erupted into screams and applause.
She was dynamic — her desire almost resonated like a woman speaking from first-hand experience. In addition to her attitude and antics, her voice was very powerful: she was on fire and it was safe to say that everyone present felt it too.
The Parkinson Memorial Secondary School student also rendered I Will Always Love You, also by Houston, to amass her 608 points. In this performance she was very good – even before she was finished, members of the audience stood to applaud.
Despite the strength of her performance, Chandler needs to work on her lisp which at times affected her diction, which on a few occasions was further compounded as she got carried away by the reception and appeared to shout.
With 568 points, Jessica Walrond earned second place. She sang California King Bed by Rihanna and Joy Enriquiez’s How Can I Not Love You.
In the first song she started out singing bass and every time she changed keys she sounded like a different person. A former judge said she would score high because she added colour to the song, however in my opinion, it sounded like confusion.
A valiant effort aided Rashida Green into third spot. Her performance of Adele’s Set Fire To The Rain was credible. She looked as if she was ready to set fire wearing a spicy red body hugging ensemble; her voice was good and her diction was clear but her performance was dead.
She just stood still, then moved twice from side to side very slowly — there was no vibrancy about her, as she performed a song that evokes vitality.
Her second performance of If I Could by Regina Belle was not much livelier, though she at least showed increasingly more desire, especially when she forgot the lyrics twice.
After that incident her eyes were more alive as if she knew that because the competition was so keen she would have to fight for a spot. She gained 559 points.
On the judges’ recommendation, Patrona Robinson will advance to the next round of competition. She gained 556 points for her renditions of Last Night by 5th Dimension and Jean Knight’s 1971 hit Mr Big Stuff. This was her second try in a preliminary and sticking to her classic favourites has worked for her. Each song suited her sweet tone, was smooth, and enjoyable. Any lover of old school music would definitely enjoy listening to her for an entire night.
The tragedy of the night would have to be Ashley Rover. After her performances one would definitely need a sit down with the judges to query what she was doing wrong that she did not advance. In the first preliminary she was a stand out, but in this one though her performance of Sugar Candy Kisses was not as impactful as her rendition of I Know Him So Well, she was still very good.
Her voice was good, diction was clear, and microphone technique has improved tremendously. The 16-year-old has a beautiful physique, big bold eyes which were inviting and a constant smile that could make the heavens declare.
Contestants in the six to 12 age category, Reniece Bonnett and Crystal Lavia, have both moved on in their competition. Bonnett gained 624 for a much improved performance of Jennifer Hudson’s Spotlight and Better In Time, while after several weeks of recovering from the flu, Lavia earned 522 for her remade version of Rumour Has It by Adele and Christina Perri’s Jar Of Hearts.
Other contestants were: Jermaine Oxley, Dario Piggott, Nickyl Blades and Cherise Waldron. 2012 Honouree, Lillian Lorde, opened the show with a fierce performance of Norah Jones’ I Don’t Know Why and Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, while Everdene Smart, the 2011 winner, was at her best.
Over-21 contestant Shelly-Ann Shelly Thunder Niles, who is well known for supporting the Teen Talent contest and calypsos tents, showed a different side of herself and it was well received. Others performers were Bianca Boyce, Irvine Fatman Weekes and Rufus Zephrin, who did a dance. [email protected]