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February 3, 2011 SUNSHINE CITY HOSTS BOB MARLEY SYMPOSIA FOR THE 1st TIME! The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) staged the eastern regional leg of the annual Bob Marley Symposium and Song Arrangement Competition for the first time in the ‘Sunshine City’ at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Greater Portmore Junior Centre on Wednesday, February 2.   The theme “Open Your Eyes and Look Within” was most fittingly contextualized in a storytelling format by the two guest presenters, Bob Clarke and Ruhel Cooke, who enlightened the hundreds of high school attendees, about the socio-political period which molded the life and music of Jamaica’s foremost Cultural Icon, Bob Marley.  Moderator for the segment Amina Blackwood Meeks kept the children on the edge of their seats with her usual clever remarks, offering several light moments.   During the Song Arrangement Competition segment high school choirs from McGrath, Yallahs, Holy Childhood, Merl Grove, Ascot, Tacius Golding, St. Georges College, Bog Walk, Old Harbour, Waterford, Ardenne, Seaforth, Bridgeport and Vauxhall delighted the audience and adjudicators with renditions of songs such as; Redemption Song, Smile Jamaica, Bad Card, Natural Mystic, Lively up yourself, Forever Loving Jah.   In the end, the top prize of a 41 inch replica of Bob Marley’s guitar was awarded to the most outstanding team, the Ardene High School led by music teacher Mr. Dwayne Morris. The 2nd prize was awarded to the Denise Williams led troupe from Merl Groove whilst 3rd place went to St. George’s College directed by Hughroy Rattigan.   The day’s activities concluded with a spirited performance by Jermaine Blake, one of the ten finalists in the Jamaica Festival Song Competition 2010 and a student of the Edna Manley School of Music. Other activities included an exhibition on the life and work of Bob Marley, as well as an impromptu “mix off” of some of Bob Marley songs by those in attendance.    Each year the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission stages four regional Symposia and Song Arrangement Competitions in commemoration of the birth of the Hon. Robert Nesta Marley birthday celebration which falls within Reggae Month. Its main aim is to promote and facilitate awareness of the Legend’s music and by extension our rich cultural heritage.   The first in the series of events for 2011 was held in the Northern Region at the St. John’s Anglican Church Hall, St. Ann on February 1. While The Central region’s symposium was held on February 3 at the St. Gabriel Anglican Church Hall, May Pen. The final staging was held on February 4 at the Lucea Anglican Church Hall, Hanover.

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