Off with a bang!

Ashley Rover was simply beautiful and unspoilt.

by Kimberley Cummins

The first preliminary in the 36th edition of the annual Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest got off to a bang last night.

Singing White Flag by Dido and Shania Twain’s You’ve Got A Way With Me, Rodeesia Singh demolished the other nine contestants to win by 626 points. She was flawless in both renditions; her voice was soothing and simply sweet. Pursuing Psychology at the Barbados Community College, the 18 year old probably knew exactly how to get into the head of the judges because during her performances she did not appear to be trying hard at all — she just came onto the stage and performed.

Second place went to Shanae Nicholls with 593 points. Her first performance of Reflection was inspirational; and after the first half she was leading the competition with 286 points ahead of Singh’s 285. In my opinion, however, I Know My Redeemer Lives, was her better performance. The former Lodge School student was more comfortable in this number, for as she sang you could hear a pin drop as the intimate audience were overwhelmed by her every note. When she was finished a unanimous round of applause swept throughout the Plantation Garden Theatre.

Harrison College bound, Reniece Bonnett was deserving of her 584 points and third place. The youngster was wonderful to come from fifth position going in the final half to earn her semi-finals spot. Make It Real by The Jets was her rescuer; her voice was very good in this number — much better than her first rendition of Jennifer Hudson’ Spotlight. If Bonnett selects more songs that complimented her beautiful tone she will only go far.

A definite favourite last night was Ashley Rover. She openly wept when her name was not called in the final three, but that should not get her down. She was creative, fresh, in fine voice and will be a force to reckon with if she decides to contest another preliminary.

She as well as Patrona Robinson were the lone contestants to perform local numbers. Robinson sang He’s So Fine and Midnight Blues both by the legendary Barbadian songstress Wendy Alleyne, while Rover rendered Lulu’s To Sir With Love and Beautiful and Unspoilt by the late Cheryl Hackett.

Sixteen year old, Rover, modernised Hackett’s classic number by adding steel pan. The original will always be great but to hear the twist and enjoy it was a total surprise.

This beautiful young woman had presence about her; one could argue that it was her bold eyes that consumed you or it was her powerful voice or even her extremely clear diction. But whatever it was, she was really good and the audience was appreciative. However she needs to work on her microphone technique, at points her voice was not audible and that could have been one of the reasons she did not move on. To compliment her good performance the first timer wore a turquoise tube top, balloon bottom dress accessorised with simple jewellery to look stunning.

Other contestants were: Randy Bowen, Amoura Boyce, Jaenali Harding, Shanice Lynch and Sherise Smart. Contestants in the 6-12 category were Kayla Alleyne and Krystal Boyce.

Teen Talent Honouree, Lillian Lorde, gave splendid performances of Run To You and If Only You Knew. Ashanta King and Arthur Moore both semi-finalists in the Over 21 competition made guest performances while former winner, Irvine Fatman Weekes “dubbed up” the building.

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