Saxophonist Zuleki Inniss charmed the audience and simultaneously impressed the judges, to win preliminary five of the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition last Sunday night at Divi Southwinds.
Just 16-years-old, but oozing talent and confidence, Inniss gave a commendable interpretation of late Luther Vandross’ If Only For One Night and was just as impressive in his second appearance with Rock With You. Imposing in stature, Inniss set a musical standard that proved difficult for the other contestants to surpass. As he develops Inniss will learn to be a bit more demonstrative while playing on stage but this is a precocious talent destined for bigger things.
Inniss might have been a tough act to follow but the other artistes tried their best and none more so than the highly promising vocalist Tarique Griffith. He garnered 662 points, just 34 fewer than the winner. On another night in different company, he would have been unbeatable.
Griffith added his name to the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Bobby Darin who have performed the delightful Feeling Good, a song from the musical The Roar Of The Greasepaint – The Smell Of The Crowd and made particularly popular by Nina Simone’s cover. Griffith has a highly pleasing tone, delivers in a confident, almost casual manner, and is a talent that simply needs to be harnessed. His other song of the night was Suddenly.
Taking the third position with 615 points was Alicia Alleyne. She maintained the movie musical vein with a rendition of Christina Aguilera’s Bound To You from the flick Burlesque. Her second selection was Keisha White’s Weakness In Me. With a tad more projection of her voice, the 18-year-old has the potential to go deep into the competition.
There were two artistes who were recommended by the judges to advance to another preliminary and one of these was the persevering Jessica Green who got a combined 607 points for her delivery of Shakira’s Waka Waka and Miley Cyrus’ The Climb. Green has been on the show before and one of her hallmarks has been self-confidence and she has the ability to support it.
The other contestant receiving the nod of approval from the judges was Akeiba Inniss and one could understand why. Inniss has a certain “je ne sais quoi” quality about her, an infectious stage presence, and she was quite entertaining with her interpretation of Adele’s Chasing Pavements.The 19-year-old didn’t just sing, she communicated with the audience with some very interesting vocal modulations. This is a talent to keep an eye on. She also performed Etta James’ At Last in the second-half to complete a very good night, even if she didn’t place in the top three. She collected 563 points. Also facing the judges were Atrice Joseph and Nicole Sealey who both gave of their best on the night.
In the over-21 competition, Ziggie Harris with 670 points and Nikita Boyce with 450 made the cut to advance.
Organisers have introduced a new category for the differently able community this year and advancing with 649 points was the visually impaired Everson Maloney with the Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed. Of course, calypso fans will remember Maloney performing on the Super Gladiators Calypso Tent stage a few years ago. He has beautiful vocals and they were in full force on Sunday night.