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No easy battle


The finalists have been named; now the battle has officially begun for the title of the 37th Richard Stoute Teen Talent Winner.

Last night was the final showdown of semi–finalists, and more than a handful demonstrated the fight will not be a simple one. Coming hard out the blocks was Sherece Chandler; she held nothing back.

Rendering Jennifer Holliday’s I Am Changing, Sherece was in good voice, drawing applause after applause, as she sang passionately and with such incredible ease. Even before she had completed her song, with her distinctively clear diction, patrons were already to their feet in explosive ovation.

After that sterling performance in the first half, there was some wondering if Chandler could maintain such a high standardin her second song. At the beginning of And I Am Telling You, also by Holliday, Chandler’s tone was a tad too forceful; but she mellowed her delivery as she sang on, giving the Party Stand audience what they so much anticipated. Singing from her toes, as one patron remarked, her vocals were stirring and emotive, for which again she received thunderous applause. Close on her heels was Rebekah Carter, whose outstanding rendition of Winner In You by Ann Jillian was maybe the stimulus for Chandler to put in that extra effort in her latter performance. There were many people with big voices last night, and Carter was definitely one.

The last performer of the night, she awakened a lulled audience with her entertainly smoothly rich vocals. Carter hit notes only a young Whitney Houston could, and she did so effortlessly.

When she was through, not only was the standing audience well pleased; but so were the judges, who apparently had no qualms about showing their obvious satisfaction, as they stamped their feet, clapped their hands and discussed alound what they had just witnessed.

Although she too received favourable response for Stephanie Mills’ I Feel Good All Over –– and she was good, her performance did not resonate as with her first offering.

If Mishael Haynes wasn’t on the final’s list after his satisfactory first performance of Can’t Let Go, he certainly was after performing Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time. In the final verse of the song, there was an electrical outage; and, with encouragement from the audience, Haynes lowered his microphone and, a cappella, continued like a professional. His diction was so clear, that patrons sitting in the back of the Party Stand could hear him.

Nor was he daunted by the lack of accompaniment music because, ever remaining in key, and affording the audience the privilege of hearing his sweet voice in its natural state. And for his courage he got a deserving standing ovation.

From her prelimary performance it was expected Jakela Stoute would be a favourite. Before she started to sing Don’t You Remember by Adele and Then You Look At Me by Celine Dion, the audience was applauding loudly. However, she did not live up to the hype.

When her voice was good, it was very good; but it cracked somewhat towards the end of the first song, giving her a less than pleasurable hoarse tone.

Azizi Clarke offered commendable performances of I Who Have Nothing and It’s A Man’s World by James Brown. Her pitch was too gentle for the first song, rendering her unable to deliver its punches. In addition, she did not really get going until close to the end of the soul number.

In the second song Clarke showed her might from early, reinforcing it with theatrics. Her rendition was worthy, but her undoing might have been coming immediately after Chandler.

In fine voice was Rodeesia Singh, who sang Out Here On My Own and When You Kiss Me, but surprisingly did not make the cut.

It was no shock, however, that Rashida Codrington, Cherish Maynard, Chantal Jemmott and Jonathan Jeffrey also made the finals.

Finalists from the first semi–final are Nykeyah Gittens, Shakir Maynard, Cherece Richards, Jessica Green, Zoe Armstrong and Tasha Mathurin.

Other contestants last night were Erica Best, Marcus Myers, 8–12 champions Naheem and Nakeem Wahid, and sLekenya Preescod.

Before and during the competition, contestants paid tributes in song to 1984 Teen Talent Winner Irving Fatman Weekes, who was last Monday gunned down in a neighbourhood bar where he was hanging out. Email 

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