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THE AUDIENCE at Frank Collymore Hall was wooed and serenaded, even teased and titillated, as talent after talent took to the LIME NIFCA Finals stage on Saturday, the first of two nights of music. The packed auditorium was graced with some of the highest scoring performances emerging from the semi-finals: the offerings of school choirs, soloists, bands, professionals and non-professionals. Many were repeat LIME NIFCA winners, and some took to the stage twice, to the delight of appreciative patrons. Raphael Hinds, composer and arranger of the piece 24/7, got a standing ovation. Taking the stage with his five-piece band – keyboardist, guitarist, two saxophonists and he himself as drummer – the University of the West Indies student presented a fully vigorous instrumental. Hinds coaxed every riff out of his drum set, getting up to let loose on the cymbals, with every hit echoing in the hallowed hall, bouncing off the walls. Apparently, playing the drums is thirst-making work, as Hinds was forced to take a swig of water before hitting the last note. Grantley Adams Memorial School Choir didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with Leonard Cohen’s Halleluiah. Latisha Whitney did justice to the song as the soloist, with she and choir putting their own spin on it – simple, sweet and effective. Whitney would return on her own to do two more pieces. She would learn it is harder to be up there without a choir. She was a little flat in the rendition of Hero, but made up for it in Beautiful And Unspoilt. Ria Greene also did Beautiful And Unspoilt. Her completely different arrangement worked well with her strong voice, but at times she was drowned out by her live backing band. Her other original piece Heaven’s Song too was difficult to hear. Some people know well how to perform. Chad Montplaisir is one of them. The tall third-former of St James Secondary tackled You Raised Me Up valiantly. He walked into the audience, the spotlight on him every step of the way, to deliver a polished piece, though a bit restrained on the high notes. He probably didn’t want to go overboard with a difficult song. Winner of two bronze medals last year, he should medal again. Loud applause followed the CP Unit, ages 12 to 16, under the direction of music tutor David Headley. They did the Winan Brothers’ Tomorrow. And those who don’t follow pop music wouldn’t have recognized that the CP Unit mixed in a little bit of Ne-Yo’s and Pitbull’s Give Me Everything. Having his young voices taking turns at the mic, Headley must be commended for using so many and blending them so seamlessly. One voice of note, though, was the deep “baritone” of a girl in the back row. Flawless! It was evident Andreen McClean’s voice was husky in some parts of Ave Maria, those that needed a soft sweet tone to bring the notes out. She held her composure and in the last verse, with the three Ave Marias to end the song, she had her voice soaring to the roof, pulling it off to the very end. It must be noted that McClean was battling a cold for the past couple of days. Lisa Griffith, a background vocalist, decided she wanted her time in the limelight. Using her sweet, natural voice, she ensured Gabby would not be upset by her deliverance of Emmerton. Talented she is, and she stood at the mic, oozing charisma, breathing life into her song. Joshua Gay, an affable young man with the musical gifts of songwriting, producing and singing, should look overseas to go farther. With his original number How Could It Be? a bit low-key, he returned soon after to do Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman. With full backing band, he put his own arrangement to the song, introducing a reggae verse that had him skanking across the stage, earning him loud applause and whistles from the audience. He then went back to being Percy. Chrystal Cummins-Beckles is a professional. She could do no wrong in dress, stage and mic technique and choice of song with Mercy Said No. Effortless was her rendition. And what could you expect from someone performing for so long? In her second number, the original Get On Yuh Knees And Pray, she brought out the Ellerslie School Choir, whom she trained for this song and performance. A little bit distracting, but at least she came with something different. As a plus or a minus it is up to the judges. Chantal Jemmott was on point in diction, and her stage antics didn’t take away from her arresting performance of One Night Only. An unharnessed talent, she demonstrated that she was on a mission to do better than her fourth place finish in the recently concluded Teen Talent Contest. She showed she was going for gold. “Superb,” said one woman at the end. The other entrants had good showings, with special mention of Music Will Play, who did full instrumental original pieces in La Coquette and Home Is Where The Heart Is. Adrian “Boo” Husbands blew the heck out of that flute, warbling and teasing with the notes. The judges have a hard task of awarding the bronze, silver and gold medals in this category. Tonight, the last night, will see the rest of the musical performances trying to top the ones on Saturday.