Jamaica’s Best School Band (JBSB) competition, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Jamaica’s Best School Band (JBSB) competition, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, will get going on March 16 with some eight schools, including five newcomers, vying for the main trophy and a J$300,000 winner’s purse.

“We are looking forward to an exciting season as the competing schools have been fine-tuning their preparations to give themselves the best chance of winning,” said Rayven Amani, who conceptualized the competition, which has brought several promising young musicians to the fore over the years.

Like in recent years, the CHASE Fund and the Edna Manley College are the main sponsors, and the competition continues to get the blessing and support of several major acts, who have been serving as judges and mentors to the young musicians over the years.

This year, we will be placing a great deal of emphasis on original songs. IRIE Yute Records, who previously signed two singers from the competition to their label, has given us the commitment to record the best of the original songs,” stated Amani, who is quite excited about the level of exposure the youngster could get from such an opportunity. “We will be producing a video to support that song.”
In addition to the recording opportunity, which will go to the school with the best original song; and the J$300,000 that will go to the winning band, the second-place band will pocket J$200,000; and the third place, J$150,000. The top band will also receive musical instruments from Music Mart.

The eight-competing school, which has been divided into two groups of four schools each, read as follows: Group 1 – Pembroke Hall High School (Season 1 winner), Papine High School, St. Mary High School (newcomers), and St. Thomas Technical High School (newcomers), Group 11 – Belair High School, May Day High School (newcomers), Ferncourt High School (newcomers), and Lennon High School (newcomers).

“We were hoping to have at least 12 schools but, in the build-up, some of the schools pulled due to various challenges,” said Amani. “However, we are extremely confident that, based on the enthusiasm we see from the schools that are in, it should be a fantastic competition of extremely high quality.

In the build-up to the competition, the principal of the JBSB embarked on a school tour to observe the preparation of the student musicians. During the tour, Seaforth High School, a former winner, was gifted with instruments, which were donated to the JBSB by the Cornwall College Class of 1990, which is now primarily based in the United States.

In reflecting on last year’s competition, which was won by St. Catherine High School, Amani said it started off low-keyed as the nation was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as it progressed, it got increasingly exciting, especially after they got permission to start allowing an audience.

“It turned out extremely well,” said Amani, who was still elated by what transpired. “We had quite an enthusiastic audience for the final… They enjoyed themselves, which made us quite happy.