Janique Dennis, a young local university teacher and performing artiste who has been heating up the local music and spoken word scene within recent months, has gone on to capture the hearts of international judges in a worldwide music competition, who handpicked her song to be played at an international summit last month. Dennis submitted her impacting environment-themed video Love Alone (directed by Justyn Mayers and produced by Kit Israel) to the Rio +20 Global Youth Music (Global RockStar) Contest, which was held from March to June 2012. The competition was created by the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges (IAAI). It formed part of the itinerary to mark the 20th annual installment of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, dubbed the Rio+20 Earth Summit, that was held in Brazil. “I was thrilled to submit to this competition as it fit in with the theme of love I chose as my maxim for 2012,” said Dennis. “I could express my love for the environment and hopefully cause others to pay more attention to its needs as well.
“When I heard of the contest I also started thinking about how it presented me with the opportunity to get the message to a wide audience that there is abundant, promising, undiscovered talent in Trinidad and Tobago.” The contest was open to ‘young’ (below 15 years old) and ‘youth’ (15 to 30) from across the world and required entrants to upload their video with a sustainable development theme to Youtube and then send the link to the Global Rockstar page. Selection of winners was based on a public vote system. While Dennis did not get many votes from fellow Trinis, the judges of Global RockStar saw the light of her talent and our culture, shining through. “I’m fully aware of the cultural biases of my region - personality brands and musical cliques - so it hasn’t surprised me that I didn’t get much support for Love and Love Alone as it is a blend of poetry and a mixing of genres. Truth be told, I didn't expect to win, because it was based on votes from my country, and we do not appreciate our talent and culture.” Dennis was however pleasantly shocked when she was contacted by the competition organisers. “I received a contract seeking permissions for the song to be included in an international compilation for the Summit. I thought ‘this is my first video and first attention-receiving recording, and it's international!’” “I was the only person from our region to receive this honour and one of three from the Western Hemisphere along with the USA and Columbia,” she said.