Battle for the title

Chantal Griffith

by Kimberley Cumminss

It could be anyone’s crown when the 36th annual Richard Stoute Teen Talent final comes off on Sunday at Plantation Garden Theatre.

This final is expected to be one of the most keenly contested in recent times and the judges will have their most difficult challenge when the 16 finalists appear on stage. Seven preliminaries down, two semi-finals completed and most of the talented teens with whom Barbados TODAY spoke said they were still nervous, yet anxious at the prospects of victory.

Chantal Griffith, Jamal Springer, Kibibi Greenidge, Shakir Maynard, Rashida Codrington, Rebekah Carter, David Howard, Reniece Bonnett, Jonathan Jeffrey, Chantal Jemmott, Sherece Chandler, Anita Charles, Tasha Mathurin, Meesha Brathwaite, Jabarrie Hurdle and Sade Lampitt are the ones vying for the title.

Without doubt, former Junior Monarch Charles, is confident that calypso could win the crown. She said: “It happened before and it can definitely happen again.”

She will perform two social commentaries: H.E.L.P (Heaven’s Elected Labour Party), a tribute to the late Prime Minister David Thompson and Don’t Blame We, which she won the Junior Monarch title with in 2009. Both songs were written and arranged by Chrystal Cummins-Beckles.

David Director Howard is expected to put on a really good show at the final. Before he was convinced to enter the competition by the encouragement from family, he said he had no interest in singing

Now, although he still wonders what others heard in his voice then, he enjoys singing. He revealed that if a lucrative opportunity presented itself, he would set aside a career in medicine and take it up to improve his singing and confidence.

Jabarrie Hurdle is one many eyeing the title. It can be said that he is the one who most wants to win since coming very close on two occasions. This season he dominated, winning his preliminary and thrilling in his semi-final.

He said he intends to be well focussed on Sunday, recognising that the chances were equal for all contestant if they perform well on the night.

Kibibi Greenidge is always very fine vocally; in each performance she demonstrated a sexy, seductive passion in her voice. This girl can sing; all she needs to do is bring the goods and she will be a force to reckon with.

Meesha Brathwaite has a look that’s very striking and memorable — it screams superstar. So much so that she said when Richard Stoute himself met her, he invited her to enter the Teen Talent contest. The former Ellersie Secondary School student said while she grabbed the opportunity to enter as a way to gain recognition, now she too is determined to win. Notwithstanding her voice may not be the strongest overall, she has improved dramatically since her first appearance.

There is nothing about Rashida Codrington that one would forget either. She has potential in abundance. She was one of the three selected for the final from the first semifinal, which contestants with the lower scores were relegated to. The 15-year-old shocked everyone, maybe even herself, and when she opened her mouth she was incredible.

“I was very shy and was lacking confidence in myself, but after going to the workshops weekly and with the help of Mr. Richard Stoute showing me what I was doing wrong, I came out of my shell and got better.

“I am close to the end of the competition and I have gained so much experience from all the other contestants and also made numerous friends,” she said. It is not hard to envisage her coming out on top.

Chantal Griffith has been receiving standing ovation after standing ovation for her performances throughout the season. She has a stage presence which is electric and a voice that is wonderful.

She is planning to give the audience at the final what she gave in the semi, plus more, and those who were present for her that performance and who saw the extremely high standard she set would probably be wondering if she could top it.

If one person is to be named for the most anticipated performance, it would have to be Sherece Chandler. Her voice is good but it was her mannerisms and facial antics that spoke the loudest during her renditions. Not many people can sing Whitney Houston numbers but she did a credible job. If she sticks with those big, powerful songs another female may walk away with the crown on Sunday.

Chantal Jemmott usually performs with passion, as if she is doing it for the very last time. That usually holds the audience and the judges. While her voice is good, maybe one of the best voices in the competition, it does not have as much personality as some others.

Shakir Maynard will have to bring much more than Michael Jackson impersonations and dance routines if he wants to be in at least the top five, while Tasha Mathurin and Reniece Bonnett should be thankful for the experience of reaching the final.

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