JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Singer and songwriter, Tashauna Williams is elated to be the winner of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s ‘The Big Stage’.
  • Sing-jay Marlon McKenzie also known as ‘Overall’ from St. James copped the second place award, while singer, Solomon ‘Freddie Small’ Small, from St. Thomas, copped third place.
  • The sectional prize for Best Overall Novelty Talent went to Sherry Dawn Brown from St. Mary for her dub poetry piece.

Singer and songwriter, Tashauna Williams is elated to be the winner of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s ‘The Big Stage’, one of the competitions under the JCDC’s redesigned programmes for Jamaica Festival 2014.

“It was an exuberant feeling. I was excited, ecstatic, overwhelmed… I was surprised because I didn’t know I was going to win because there were so many good competitors,” said the 23 year old from St. James.

Performing under the stage name “Shauna”, she was among 26 gifted Jamaicans who displayed their talents at the Big Stage, held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, in Kingston, on Sunday, July 20.

Sing-jay Marlon McKenzie also known as ‘Overall’ from St. James copped the second place award, while singer, Solomon ‘Freddie Small’ Small, from St. Thomas, copped third place.

The sectional prize for Best Overall Novelty Talent went to Sherry Dawn Brown from St. Mary for her dub poetry piece. ‘Active Immortals’ from St. Catherine snatched the dance trophy while second place winner, ‘Overall’ took home the deejay award.

Miss Williams blew the competition out of the water with her excellent performance of American group No Doubt’s ‘Underneath It All’. The performance earned her two trophies, $200,000, a $30,000 coupon, and a gift basket.

No stranger to the stage, she was the winner of the ‘Tastee on the Verge’ competition in 2012, and entered ‘The Big Stage’ to gain even more exposure.

‘I need the exposure because I’m not signed to a producer as yet. I’m just doing my own thing, doing some recording, writing more songs,” she said.

The songbird, who has been singing since she was seven, said it is her dream to become an established singer. Currently, her song titled, ‘I Don’t Know’ featuring CJ and Linex Knowledge, is being played on Links 96 FM.

Shauna said she emulates Jamaican artistes, Tessanne Chin and Cherine Anderson, as well as English singer and songwriter, Adele Adkins, among others.

“I would love to be as successful and popular as they are, so I plan to use my cash prize to further my music career, as well as to attend Kenilworth Heart Academy,” she explained.

Mr. McKenzie, who also came from St. James to make his mark in the first staging of the competition, said he was overjoyed to be placed second.

“I was very overwhelmed, knowing that 13 parishes came together, 26 of us, and I was one of the victors,” he said.

The 25 year old performed ‘Ah Lunch Time’, his original song, which earned him first place in the deejay category. He was awarded $100,000, a trophy for ‘Best Deejay’ and a coupon valued at $30,000.

McKenzie said he entered the competition for exposure as well as to express his talent. He wants to advance his musical career after entering various talent competitions over the years and not being successful in obtaining that big break. “I saw the ‘Big Stage’ as an avenue to do so,” he added.

“I’ve been deejaying from I was nine or 10 years old, and I started writing songs from I was around 13 years old… I have a lot in my compilation but it’s the big break that I’m looking for,” he said.

The deejay informed that he saw the journey to the national finals as a learning process as it made him more knowledgeable about the music industry, “I also enjoyed the workshops and the rehearsals,” he added.

Mr. McKenzie is now seeking to promote his talent and to get the publicity that he needs to move forward in the industry.

“People in the streets are gravitating towards that song,” he announced, adding that, “‘Ah Lunch Time’ was written with two messages, one talking about my big break and also referring to employees who have demanding bosses.”

“I’m planning on shooting a music video for the song. This will help to give me the publicity that I need,” he continued.

The deejay, who said he looks up to many Jamaican artistes such as I-Octane, Assassin, and Bob Marley, said he wants to build a similar career and international recognition.

Third place winner, ‘Freddie Small’ who is also is no stranger to the music industry, has struggled over the years to make it big in the industry.

Mr. Small, now 62 years old, said he entered the competition “just for the fun of it”. However, his rendition of ‘My Girl’ was so good that it earned him the position over ‘Active Immortals’ from St Catherine, and Sherry Dawn Brown from St. Mary. He walked away with $50,000, a trophy, and a grocery basket.

Mr. Small, who was a member of the ‘Outta Limit’ band in the late 1970s travelled with the band and sang across the island. However, he lamented that only two of his songs were able to make it on the radio over the years, his rendition of Ben E King’s ‘She’s Gone Again’ and one of his original songs ‘Call on Me,” which did not generate much success.

He said efforts to get the “big break” have been futile, “I’m still at it, singing with bands here and there and recording but to have it played on the radio is very difficult,” he added.

Now that his name is back in the public, Mr. Small says he is currently working on more recordings, such as Ben E King’s ‘Imagination’, and two of his original songs, ‘Stranger in the Night’ which was produced by Ken Boothe, and ‘The Signs of the Time.’

Mr. Small said he is positive about the future, noting that this time it will not be difficult to promote his songs, with the advent of the Internet and his involvement in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

More than 1,000 talented Jamaicans have been discovered by the JCDC, an agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture, during ‘The Big Stage’ community talent searches.