From her first preliminary outing in this year’s Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition, until her semifinal performance, Yahandje Daniel improved at every stage.
Then on Sunday night in the final at Hilton Barbados Daniel peaked before an appreciative audience with her renditions of Adele’s Don’t You Remember and When We Were Young. Her vocals were clear, precise, and she didn’t just sing, she performed. She rendered both selections with such feeling that it resonated with those in attendance and brought many of them to their feet on two occasions.
With 40 points for voice, 20 for stage presence, 20 for diction and 20 for creativity, Daniel would have garnered most of her points from the first three categories – voice and diction in particular.
For her efforts she collected 838 points and the grand prize of a trophy, $6 000 and a scholarship to the Barbados Community College. The Alleyne School student also won $1 000 for her essay which was part of the training programme for all the talented teens.
Taking second place was Gabriel Yearwood who rocked the entertainment hall with an exciting rendition of Tina Turner’s Simply The Best. She was simply infectious and of all the competitors perhaps scored highest in the category of stage presence. On the night she owned the Hilton.
But perhaps on reflection, Yearwood might have had a greater chance of winning if she had chosen another up-tempo song. She elected to slow the tempo with Beyonce’s Listenin the second half and showed some weaknesses in vocal control that could have been better camouflaged with a faster selection. But for pure entertainment value she stole the show. She collected 813 points.
Kenya Joseph was many person’s pre-final favourite and she accredited herself very well. In the first half she delivered Jennifer Hudson’s I Am Changing and followed up in the second half with Taylor Dayne’s Love Will Lead You Back. She would have impressed in all the judging categories except creativity [only one entrant on the night was creative] and did enough to be considered for an even higher placement. She collected 810 points and is a definite talent for the future.
In fourth position was the highly promising Ranaan Hackett who gave the competition a local flavour with the spouge number You’re No Good and a rendition of Kareen Clarke’s 1996 Caribbean Song Festival selection Caribbean Unity. Hackett was smooth and basically flawless for his 807 points.
Tarique Griffith’s fifth place finish was a travesty.
A working definition of creativity is the use of one’s imagination or original idea, in the production of an artistic work. Perhaps the judges should have been placed in detention immediately after the show, armed with a dictionary, and made to write out that definition or some variant to it 400 to 500 times.
Here was a lad who lost nothing significant in comparison to the four performers placed ahead of him, with respect to the judging criteria of voice, stage presence and diction. But he blew them all away by performing an original, self-penned number entitled Don’t Go. With 20 points in this category he had to garner the majority if not all of them. In a night of covers, his was the only original.
Of course having an original is not all, it has to be good and it has to be performed, and Griffith did so outstandingly. So outstanding was he that chief judge Sheldon Hope was moved to highlight how good he had been during his summary of the performances. Thus, that he came below second place made a mockery of the category of “creativity”. His other selection on the night was a beautifully rendered interpretation of Luther Vandross’ If Only For One Night. He scored 789 points which in the context of the closeness of the competition was a monumental joke.
Nine-year-old Tahirah Gibbons showed much promise during her time on stage with From This Moment and Girl On Fire. She is almost certain to win this competition one day as she matures.
Also in impressive voice was Maaisa Clarke with I Will Always Love You and I Believe. She has performed consistently well during the competition and kept up that high standard on Sunday.
The Right Combination band fell victim to some technical problems related to the sound system which unfortunately affected their performance. But they are some very talented youngsters of whom more will be heard in the future.
Also appearing before the judges in the keenly contested final were the talented Jessica Green, Jalissa Edwards, Rashida Codrington, Daesha Brathwaite, Alicia Alleyne, Shaunette Alleyne and Neesha Welch.