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Natanga Smith


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If the first semi-finals of the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Under-21 Contest showcased the contestants with the lowest scores, then the second semi-finals performance Sunday next should be par excellence.
Nineteen people took to the stage last Sunday at The Plantation in a four-hour production that saw hitches from only three contestants, who flubbed their songs; two standing ovations for the same performer; and for the first time in Teen Talent history a contestant who wrote and delivered an original number.
Those who love music would have found it hard to resist getting on their feet or sounding continual rapturous applause for 15-year-old Rashida Codrington, who was more Jennifer Hudson than Jennifer Holiday with And I Am Telling You.
She didn’t overdo the song, and was a natural on the high parts, hitting the notes in the right places. And all this earned her a standing ovation from the audience that included Ricky Stoute.
Her second choice, the gospel number Upon That Rock, was sung with such conviction that she didn’t need the background track. Her voice was powerful, ringing clear, and her diction was precise. The standing ovation for this was not as exuberant as the first, but she was the only contestant to get one, furthermore two.
Meesha Brathwaite’s looks and voice belong in a smoke-filled jazz room somewhere in Louisiana, New Orleans. The blonde-haired singer stuck to her prelim choice Adele’s Someone Like You, the piano accompaniment being all it needed. Her natural talent showed in her second choice of Natural Woman, the earthiness of her voice adding to her stage aura.
A tiny package with a big voice is Rasheda Green. Not having the stage presence of some others, and possessed with the habit of looking into the ceiling, she yet commands attention once she opens her mouth. Her Anita Baker-esque If I Could was beautifully rendered in the first half.
Rasheda has the ability to transform her voice to suit any song, demonstrating this gift in Miley Cyrus’ more mellow When I Look At You.
The two young men in the contest, Dario Piggott and Corey King, had two satisfactory performances in both halves. Dario, while a bit flat in the R. Kelly number I Believe I Can Fly, was emotional with No. 1 Fan. Corey’s gospel number Call On Jesus was a commendable choice for his voice, his original Oh Lord I Love You following in the same vein.
Ronnelle King, 20, came out looking like she was doing a Broadway musical or singing in an opera house. Her wardrobe choices were well thought out, majestically complementing her two arias. Not doing the planned Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina, she offered instead Memory, sounding like the Barbra Streisand version. Part Of Your World had the stronger classical feel to it – with a little bit of flamboyance.
Cherish Maynard’s Jar Of Hearts was a strong performance, but My Immortal suffered from a lack of synching of voice and track. While Ashley Rover, Shane Nicholls and Jelesa Mayers had problems with their lyrics in the second half, they had presentable first-half showings.
Shanta Bowen, Crystal Hope, Reniece Bonnett (who came third in the Under-13 contest last week), Janaeli Harding, Shardinay Worrell, Amoura Boyce, Kristina Carter, Patrona Robinson and Jessica Waldron all had ups and downs. A few of the songs were too mature for some; some had poor choices for their voices; and some just simply sang.
Being simple will not get one to the finals; greater effort is a must.