By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
Shauna-Kay Miller is a guru in the culinary arts and home economics, having taught in that field both here in the British Virgin Islands and in Jamaica where she also co-owns the Sweet Concepts bakery.
Miller, who has a son, now teaches Home Economics at the Seventh Day Adventist School in Sea Cows Bay – the same school attended by Durnel Sanderson, who won the Gen-Y Factor Singing Competition last year.
Miller, already tested and proven in the kitchen and the classroom, recently made a big decision that has brought her success in another arena – music.
She entered the Government-run Gen-Y Factor Singing Competition, representing the District Three where she has been residing in recent times.
Miller, who said her parents and brothers are also excellent singers, had no clue she would have emerged the winner – beating 11 other finalists.
“It feels good; it feels very surreal; it feels awesome,” she said while she tried to digest the victory announced moments earlier.
“I have entered other competitions, but this is the first time I am this successful.”
Miller, who discovered her singing talent at two years old, thinks her “powerful voice and strong bravado” gave her the edge over the other contestants, including District Six singers Jamori Blaize and Janae Estridge – the two runners-up.
Miller’s winning song was ‘Glory’ – a popular Hip Hop/Soul hit by American singer John Legend.
“I couldn’t make up my mind [which song to perform in the competition]. But this song was chosen two to three weeks ago. I went to ‘American Idol’ on Youtube, scrolled through a lot of songs and past singers, and I found this song, and I am like ‘OK this one looks like it can work’. It did,” said the 2017 Gen-Y Factor winner.
She further stated that she was impressed with the other finalists in the competition. “I sat at the back of the stage listening to all the other finalists. They were very good, and I was like ‘I don’t have this one; I really don’t’. I am still shocked.”
“But it was friendly rivalry. The contestants have been a nice, beautiful bunch. I know they are going places; they all did exceptionally well; they all can sing,” Miller said.
The other finalists not yet mentioned are Kathlyn Archibald-Drew from District One, Jade Hodge from District Two, Essynce Evans from District Four, Lebritnie Legair and Abigail Christopher from District Five, Lorenzo Thomas from District Seven, Zabdiel France from District Eight, as well as Kadijah Roberts and Jaani Ricketts from District Nine.
Miller, the winner, expressed gratitude for the tremendous support received from persons in and out of District Three. “Persons from my district were very supportive; they were cheering me on – even those outside of the district were cheering me on. My district representative Mr Julian Fraser and his wife were supportive of me throughout the process.”
She encouraged other young people to enter the contest next year. “Take the chance; take the risk; bring something different to the competition, as that is what the judges are looking for. While everybody can’t become the one winner that is chosen, all of us are winners. We also learn very much from this experience,” Miller reasoned.
Being the champion, she will receive monetary awards, an original song written and produced by Grammy-nominated producer Andrew ‘Drusky’ Scott, free legal consultancy services from entertainment attorney Natasha Cobham for the duration of the contract, a free recording session with HomeGrown Studio, as well as ambassadorial duties for telecommunication provider and event sponsor Digicel.
Meanwhile, Brenda Lettsome-Tye, acting director at the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports, said the Gen-Y Factor Singing Competition is a “huge undertaking” that – according to her – took about nine months to be planned and executed.
“The production itself is quite detailed; we work closely with the contestants; we offered them coaching and workshops; it’s never-ending; it’s actually quite huge and very detailed. But, at the end of the day, it’s worth it,” Lettsome-Tye told BVI News Online.
A similar sentiment was expressed by Kareem-Nelson Hull, who assisted with the competition and was also emcee during the finals last evening (June 17) at the Sir Rupert Briercliffe Hall. “It was awesome. I am relieved that it’s finished. Now, I feel ready for the next one. We did a wonderful job,” he said.
A relatively large number of people showed up for the event – many decked out in colours associated with the district for which they were rooting vociferously. Some of the stand-outs who attended were Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, minister responsible for youth affairs Myron Walwyn, and Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie.
Below are some of the moments captured by ANDRE ‘SHADOW’ DAWSON, BVI News Online’s freelance photographer.