The numbers that gathered at the Massy Dome Mall, Warrens, St Michael were testament to the limitless talent which flows through the veins of Barbados’ 166 square miles.
In its eighth year the Honey Jam Auditions saw a modest turn out with endless talent and a number of a cappella performances. The participants bravely stood in front of the 11 esteemed judges consisting of Mahalia, Faith Callender, Adaeze, Barry Hill, Vayne, Paul Husbands, Empress Zingha, Andre Clarke, Island Levvy, JJ Poulter, and Cici.
The female vocalists were vying for a spot at the highly anticipated multi-genre Honey Jam Concert to be held on November 17. However, last Saturday their performances lacked variety, with many opting for pop or ballads. Organiser Ebonni Rowe told Bajan Vibes she was disappointed that throughout the programme’s eight years, persons did not attempt to audition with soca or musical genres intrinsic to the Caribbean.
“It always disappoints me that nobody auditions with soca or an indigenous music to Barbados. I would like to see that changed,” she indicated, pointing out that for the first time there were no entrants who were singer-songwriters or accompanied by an instrument.
“Indigenous soca has been regulated to Crop Over; people are making the music for Crop Over so for a young artiste looking for a long term career, they are not seeing that genre in that way and that needs to change. I believe in soca music and it is quite possible for them to make a career out of it. They should be taking it on as a challenge and maybe doing some interesting fusions,” Rowe commented.
“They are not seeing it on the mainstream and they are not seeing the local artistes do it all year round and the support, as well on radio – that has to change,” she added.
The artist incubator programme will have artistes participating in a series of workshops which include songwriting, vocal training and performance training.
First-time presiding judge and hip hop artiste Island Levvy revealed he was pleased with the vocal talent present but voiced that he would like to see more female hip-hop artistes joining the fray.
“There are a lot of female artiste on the global scene that are killing it and giving the males some competition,” said Levvy, who further contended that the local urban scene needed development.
“As hip-hop artiste in Barbados, we’re not making a strong enough impact that young artistes, especially young female artiste, want to go that way,” he continued.
No stranger to the Honey Jam family, radio and television personality Cici reflected that the sisterhood that formed on the audition stage was heartwarming.
“Even before the girls came to the stage, even though they didn’t know each other, I saw a sisterhood forming. There was one girl in particular who seemed very nervous and another young lady was there encouraging her which I think is super important. We had people who may have never performed in this kind of space before which is an opportunity they have to get experience, to build a name for themselves.
“It’s a great platform to start because you’re going to get training – songwriting, vocal & performance, music business information so you are better equipped to go out into the world. The sisterhood as well is very important – to have that support, that community looking out for you. For some, you could tell it was their first time but over months leading up to the concert they will receive training and will learn and grow. I really am excited to see their personalities and that raw talent grow and shine on the night of the show! The transformation from audition to stage – makeup, hair, stage presence, vocals – can’t wait for the show,” she added. (KK)