MCDCA launches Simply Jazz Online Competition for Live at Lunch

As Trinidad and Tobago continues to adapt to the new normal, social media platforms have become the ‘new performing space or stage’ for artistes and audiences alike. April and May is the unofficial Jazz season in Trinidad and Tobago, when countless events and shows are usually hosted at performing spaces across the country. Live@Lunch Simply Jazz and Jazz Fusion were two events hosted by the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts (MCDCA). Understanding the realities of the
situation and the income generating vacuum facing artistes, the MCDCA livestreamed City Blessings in March and for May will host an online jazz competition for local artistes. The “Simply Jazz Online Competition” builds on the Ministry’s monthly Live@Lunch project and seeks to develop the amateur musical talent and build artistic confidence in the Jazz genre.

According to Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and Arts, “given the cancellation or postponement of many if not all of our local and regional jazz events, the online Competition is a new and innovative way to support our jazz musical talents by providing a platform to showcase their talent to a wide audience, keep the public arts alive and further the development of the overall musical and cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago. We are also celebrating new talent by the inclusion of a prize for “Best New Act”. 

The competition, which will be launched on April 30, 2020, and targets nationals who are Jazz vocalists. Contestants must submit a two (2) minute cover of one of ten (10) songs from the Participants Music List. Judges will review with the top five (5) scores moving unto the finals. The five finalists will form a capsuled Live at Lunch Simply Jazz Livestreamed show, where the winners will be voted on by the online viewing audience with over $18,000 in prize money to be won, including the special prize for Best New Act. There is also a developmental element of the competition, as the finalists will be invited by Trinidad and Tobago’s “Lady of Jazz”, Vaughnette Bigford to a two-hour workshop via Zoom on the basic approach to singing jazz and stage presentation. 

The Simply Jazz Online Competition’s aim is to bring to the fore performers with a strong artistic personality and stage presence. The emphasis is therefore not on the purely technical aspect of the performance, but also on the artistic charisma of the performer. For further details on the competition please see below. 

Competition Timeframe 

Thursday April 30 to Monday May 11, 2020. 


1. The competition will be open to all Jazz performing vocalists, who are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago. Adhering to social distancing requirements, a contestant may be either (a) a vocalist backed by tracks; (b) a vocalist backed by an instrumentalist or (c) a vocalist/instrumentalist performing one of the ten (10) songs from the “Participants Music List”.
2. The maximum number of entries is one per vocalist. Each performance entry should be a 2-minute video (maximum 70MB), along with a scanned copy of ID and contact number emailed to: with the Subject Heading: “Live at Lunch Simply Jazz Online Competition”.
3. Each entrant will receive a confirmation e-mail.
4. Finalists will be selected by a panel of three (3) judges to form a capsuled Live at Lunch Simply Jazz Livestreamed show that will be held on Friday May 15 at 12 noon. The overall “Winners” will be determined via public vote.
5. The Ministry expects that all entrants will exercise honesty and integrity and submit videos in compliance with the guidelines. Failure to comply will result in automatic disqualification.
6. The judges’ decision will be final.
7. The deadline for the competition is Monday May 11, 2020 at 11.59 pm. Late submissions will not be accepted.

Judging Criteria 

Jazz is seen as a fusion of African and European musical styles and there are many sub-genres of Jazz,
like Acid Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Bebop, Indo Jazz, Jazz -funk, and many others. Some of the basic characteristics of Jazz include improvisation, strong, prominent meter, dotted or syncopated rhythmic patterns, and distinctive tone colours and performance techniques. Jazz emphasizes the importance of expression, style, individuality and communication.

The following are some main aspects that will be adjudicated upon:
MELODY – the singer should be able to establish the melody before any melodic development or re- harmonization to the original melody. Diction should have clarity and precision, with all pitches and phrasing sung correctly (in tune).
RHYTHM – rhythm should be performed accurately and flowing within a steady tempo, as it pertains to the style in which it is performed.
TONALITY - the performer should have a good understanding of tonal quality unless, it is an A-tonal piece that is being performed which will apply to the adaptation and composition of pitches and how they present the piece.
PRESENTATION – the performer should have a professional appearance and the title of the piece, should be coupled with how they execute the performance. 

Participants Music List
1) Misty Blue by Erroll Garner
2) Summertime by George and Ira Gershwin
3) God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday
4) My Funny Valentine by Rodgers and Hart
5) Lullaby of Birdland by George Shearing
6) Our Love is here to stay by George and Ira Gershwin
7) They can’t take that away from me by George and Ira Gershwin
8) Satin Doll by Duke Ellington
9) Good Morning Headache by Irene Higginbotham, Ervin Drake and Dan Fisher
10) Fly Me to the Moon by Kaye Ballard

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