The 2014 season of Honey Jam Barbados kicked off on a high note Tuesday at Divi Southwinds hotel, with several thrilling one-minute auditions from just over 30 young women all hoping to gain entry into the increasingly popular all-female talent showcase.
While there were some familiar faces, many of those auditioning to be a part of the multi-genre production were new to the Honey Jam Barbados stage, and creator Ebonnie Rowe says it will be extremely difficult this year to whittle down the numbers.
“This is probably the most kind of ‘wow’ artistes we’ve had. Usually every year, let’s say we have 30 people, maybe five artistes I like, and then we go to the alumni pool and ask them to come back and perform. This year is definitely different. It’s the first time we’ve had so many excellent artistes at the audition,” she explained.
Between 15 and 20 artistes will move forward from the audition stage and be taken through three major workshops. The young divas will also be coached on various aspects of the music industry, entertainment management and law, and how to use social media and music conferences outside of Barbados to network with other artistes.
Several of the judges were also lavish in their praise of the budding entertainers who confidently belted out tunes from an array of genres, some of them even bringing their original songs and music tracks.
An enthusiastic Alison Hinds was especially pleased with what was on show.
“I knew there was always talent in Barbados and I’m glad that there’s the vehicle that is Honey Jam that is giving them this opportunity,” she said, adding: “Some of the talent I have heard tonight is absolutely fantastic . . . . We need this outlet for females specifically.”
However, her caution to any female getting into the industry was also sobering.
“This industry will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t know what you’re doing . . . . There are a lot of sharks, especially when it comes to women, so you have to hold yourself accountable and stick to your guns,” she said, stressing that research, and keeping yourself knowledgeable of industry practice was paramount.
Meanwhile, recording artiste Jaicko said of the night’s performances: “There weren’t any zeroes. It makes me happy to know that Barbados is growing in terms of becoming more in tune with the world and in terms of preparedness. A couple people came out with their own tracks . . . and it seems they have a genuine interest in artistry.”
First-time judge and recording artiste Rupee was “absolutely blown away”. He too offered some advice, suggesting: “Always consider that singing is not the only avenue in the music business. I heard some original material that was very impressive. The person singing it might not necessarily be the one to sing it but songwriting is where all the money is made in the music industry.”
Many of the performers were also pleased with their efforts and will be keeping their fingers crossed that they are among those getting a call back.
Josee Ross, whose original song entitled Boyfriend got a rousing round of applause from the small but enthusiastic group of spectators and supporters gathered, said it would be a dream come true to be a part of the showcase.
“Music has been a big part of my life from since growing up. When my mum had cancer it was soothing to her and it was almost like medicine and I love music. For me to make it this far and then to go on further would just pass all her expectations, mine, everyone else’s. It would be a dream.”
Another artiste who surprised the audience was husky-voiced 16-year-old Amber Amber Orano Barrow. The Parkinson Memorial student’s deep, soulful vocals were well suited to her original reggae piece entitled Hotspot.
“It would be another big step towards my dream, which is to become the number one reggae singer who has come from Barbados,” she quickly replied when asked what it would mean to her to be a part of the showcase.
Honey Jam Barbados 2014 will culminate in a big concert on Saturday, November 8, at Frank Collymore Hall, showcasing the talent of the lucky young, female vocalists. (Green Bananas Media)