The On Stage Competition was a tribute to the talents of our young people and also to their grit and perseverance.
Some of the contestants were very young — I thought no more than 11 — and it took real courage for them to stand up in front of a capacity audience, perform and compete at the limit of their emotional and technical ability.
The Wall Street Band, on stage throughout, provided expert, rich and beautifully crafted arrangements for every performer.
The competition itself featured ten performers, six vocalists and four instrumentalists. All were outstanding. Eliza Olander’s I Dreamed A Dream opened the show; she displayed good vocal control and articulation.
Shardae Lee followed confidently, with Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing. Oliver Cherry’s I Don’t Want To Be You Anymore had real pathos while Mayah Williams’s version of Stand Up by Cynthia Erivo and Joshuah Campbell was moving and bluesy — the band’s brass made a powerful finale.
Jayden Coleman’s version of Ordinary People by John Legend had excellent articulation and feeling.
Dakota Tucker’s version of Andra Day’s I Rise Up showcased her vocal range, powerful emotive phrasing and real stage presence.
Instrumentalist tenor sax player Jack Kyme gave us a highly syncopated Maple Leaf Rag, alternating with deft work from the brass section of the band.
He was followed by India Shrinarine who played a powerful version of See You Again on the flute; it had an Irish/Celtic feel to it.
Steel pan player Robin-Valana Pearman played Justin Bieber’s Despacito to a relaxed dub background; tenor saxophonist Justin Ebbin finished with two faith-based solos, Centre of My Joy by Richard Smallwood and David Archuleta’s Glorious.
I agreed with the judges who named Dakota Tucker and Justin Ebbin the winners of the third annual competition.
Singer and recording artist Heather Nova then took the stage to introduce the winner of her singer/songwriting competition, Salayah Stange.
She sang a bittersweet and deeply felt song, Happy, accompanying herself with a series of subtly arpeggiated chords on the keyboard.
The audience erupted with thunderous applause for her and all the talented young people who had participated in the event.
•The On Stage Competition and Heather Nova Singer/Songwriter Competition was held at Ruth Seaton James on Tuesday as part of the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts