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    The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) has extended the deadline for entries for the 2009 Festival Song Competition to March 31.
    Chairman of the Festival Song Competition, Vernon Derby, said that this year competition, dubbed Festival K9, promises to be a “bashment” affair.
    “We are in search of a song that will lift the spirit of the people,” he told JIS News, noting that “this will be the flagship song for the 2009 Emancipation and Independence celebrations. It should put rhythm in your feet so that when you go on the streets and hear it, you can’t help but dance.”
    He advised aspiring entrants to submit demonstration (demo) recordings with catchy lyrics and rhythms of a Jamaican flavour “that will have Jamaicans moving constantly to the beat.” Demos should be submitted on audio cassette, compact disc (CD), or digital audio tape, to the JCDC head office in Kingston or at parish offices islandwide. Typewritten lyrics must accompany each entry.
    Mr. Derby emphasised that the lyrics, melody, and music of the entries should be original. The songs should not have been previously published or performed. Entry forms are available at www.jcdc.org.jm and all JCDC offices islandwide.
    The top 10 contestants will participate in road shows across the island and other promotional activities, with the winner to be decided by public vote. The winner of Festival K9, he said, will walk away with a $1 million top prize and there are also sectional prizes to be won.
    According to Mr. Derby, the competition offers opportunities for unearthing and promoting talent and launching careers, and continues to play an integral role in the development of upcoming artistes. “It’s a good way for you to get known, and what better way to do so than to also stand the chance of winning a million dollars and other prizes?” he asked.
    Last year, the JCDC, in a bid to revive the camaraderie and feelings of celebration among Jamaicans at Festival time, returned the competition to its previous title – ‘Jamaican Festival Song Competition’. For a number of years, the contest was known as the JCDC Popular Song Competition.
    “Last year was very exciting and this year will be even better. We don’t need money to enjoy ourselves. So whether we are broke or not, Festival 2K9 will ensure that we have lots of fun,” Mr. Derby stated.
    Icons of the Jamaican Festival Song Competition include the inimitable Toots Hibbert of The Maytals, who won the competition’s first staging in 1966 with the hit song Bam Bam; Desmond Dekker and the Aces, who won in 1968 with Music Like Dirt; and Eric Donaldson, who copped the top prize on several occasions with songs such as the still popular Cherry Oh Baby (1971), and Land of My Birth (1978).

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