Veteran Dancehall artiste Buju Banton is the 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition winner with his entry I Am A Jamaican.

The finals of the event were held last night (July 26), and Buju claimed the $3 million (JMD) prize. The Gargamel beat about 250 other people for the prize. It’s been a bumper year for the artiste so far as he received his RIAA Gold plaque for ‘Til Shiloh this month and released Upside Down 2020 last month, which has been doing well on the charts.

Earlier in the show, The Blessed singer gave a riveting and energetic performance of the song that would go on to win. After he accepted the prize, he gave a small performance of the song once again and indicated that the winnings would go to the Sunbeam Boys’ Home.

“Before I go into the song, I want to congratulate the true winners tonight. Every member, everyone who participated the other night. You’re all winners. I was happy to share the stage with you all, but for me, the true winners tonight are the Sunbeam Boys’ Home, he said as he received a symbolic check.

The Jamaica Festival Song was once known as the Independence Festival Song Competition. The winning song is featured at the annual celebration of Jamaica’s Emancipation and Independence, on August 6, and is expected to inspire a feeling of celebration about Jamaica or Jamaican Culture.

Some contestants had raised concerns that Banton and other veterans were allowed to take part in the competition, as in the years prior, the show had become a platform for less established artists. In a letter to the Jamaica Gleaner in June, one competitor Paris Taylor said the rules of the competition had changed “to the detriment of the amateurs who should have been the basis of the competition. All of a sudden seasoned artistes are on the prowl in the competition.” Despite the objections and concerns raised, the competition went on smoothly with contributions from other veterans like Freddie Mcgregor as well.

The coronavirus has forced many events to stream virtually, and this competition was not an exception. The winners this year were decided by public vote and Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia’ Babsy’ Grange gave the show her blessing.

-Dancehall Mag

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