The Reggae Jam Talent Show is the brainchild of Vernon “Dave Judah” Headley and Donna Hay. It was an idea that they had thought of for some time but it was after Donna had seen Jahnet Masten’s annual children talent show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2001 that they were given the encouragement needed to produce such an event. In March of 2003, the 1st Annual Reggae Jam Talent Search & Showcase debuted in New York at Nakisaki in Hempstead, N.Y. In the first talent search the contestants were only children. Due to an overwhelming demand from the public, an adult category was added into the 2nd annual show.
The event features a talent competition that is judged by a panel of judges and showcases multiple entertainers for the audience to enjoy. It is a fun filled, family oriented event that expands each year. The audience is encouraged to get involved with the contestants. Spectators help contestants to feel more comfortable while performing. Booing and yelling are not allowed. Every contestant is given a fair opportunity to showcase his or her talent(s). They are free to express themselves as long as their performance are clean, meaning that explicit content and obscene body gestures are considered unacceptable. The winners form the talent competition have been featured in various local events such as Irie Jamboree, the African Street Festival, and the Apollo Theatre, just to name a few. Some winners have also performed in Florida.
In addition to providing positive entertainment, Reggae Jam Promotions also believes in giving back to the community. They are able to express this idea through the efforts made by Dave Judah. Dave uses some of the proceeds from the show and goes on a journey to Ethiopia, Africa twice a year. While in Africa he works on a project at the Sari Village School in Addis Abbaba, helping to provide food, clothing, and school supplies to the children. Dave has expanded his idea of “food, clothing, shelter, and education” to many of his friends in the reggae music industry. In the spring of 2007 he brought along Chris the “Dubbmaster” from Irie Jam Media Group as well as reggae artists Living Truth and Ragga Lox along with him on his journey to Ethiopia. All three men returned to the tri-state area sharing stories of enjoyment and pleasant memories from their “Back to Africa” experience. They admitted to undr-estimating the beauty that could be found in not only the environment in Ethiopia but also the Ethiopian people, who welcomed them with open arms. Recently in the spring of 2008, Dave Judah returned back to Ethiopia but this time he brought along with him a well known international reggae star; Luciano “Jah Messenger”. This was Luciano’s first trip to the motherland and he was amazed when he saw all that Africa had to offer. Due to the support of both the contestants and spectators involved in Reggae Jam’s Annual Talent Search, this event has been able to grow and continues to give people what they ask for.
This year the show is adding yet another aspect to its lists of achievements. The show is stepping up and has taken itself to another level with the addition of the Vintage Awards. This segment of the show will be used to recognize some of the many contributions that have been made by many of the people involved in the entertainment industry who have paved the way for others. This part of the show will in no way affect the talent portion. It has been added as a way to recognize the achievements that have been made by admirable persons who have made positive progress and helped to shape both the entertainment and Caribbean industry. The people being honored were chosen for their ability to lead by example. The Reggae Jam family hopes that many of the contestants will be able to follow their example and become future leaders of tomorrow.
The 8th Annual Reggae Jam Talent Search & Vintage Awards is being held at the Giggles Entertainment Complex and Comedy Club on March 27th th. Making it to the 8th show would not have been possible without the blessings from the Father Emperor Haile Selassie I, as well as the immediate and extended Reggae Jam family members, Jean White, Paulette Grant, the media fraternity, the entertainers, the many talented contestants and the entire business community that have continuously supported the Reggae Jam family.