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August 2, 2011
Star Entertainment


Red Label Wine International Dancehall Queen - Sweet Sixteen Edition
Adrian Frater, News Editor

The new queen, Anieka Francis (centre), is flanked by runner-up, Lisa Hatakeyama (left), and 2nd runner-up, Boom Boom. In the background is MC Jackie Norman. - Adrian Frater PHOTO

Western Bureau

Papine High School graduate Anieka Francis walked away with $1 million and the 2011 Red Label Wine International Dancehall Queen trophy after topping Saturday night's Sweet sixteen edition of the annual contest at Pier One in Montego Bay.

"This means everything to me," said Francis, 21, who works as a waitress in Kingston. "I wanted to win so much that I kept on praying and praying as we awaited the result ... I am sure that winning this contest will have a positive impact on my life."

Francis, who took the title ahead of two Japanese, the flamboyant Lisa Hatakeyama in second place; and the energetic Boom Boom, in third, was a popular winner among the massive crowd. In addition to the main title, she took the sectional award for Best Dance.

Although she failed to make the top five, the elegant Keniesha Dacres of Spanish Town, St Catherine, walked away with the prize for the Best Dressed contestant. Vendela Lann of Sweden and Amanda Manning of Montego Bay, completed the top five.

"This contest continues to give me much personal satisfaction," said promoter Brian Martin of Big Head Promotions. "It is not only about the entertainment, it is also the funds we generate for the scholarship fund and the many people who keep coming here year after year, from all over the world."

The contest, which was streamed all over the world via the Internet, was fashioned by the organisers as a tribute to Japan and staged under the theme, Japan Never Too Far. For many, Japan, which was recently hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, is the second home of reggae and dancehall music.

After starting the night's activities with the traditional playing of the Jamaica's national anthem, the flavour quickly turned Japanese as the first dance group, clad in colourful Japanese costume; had the crowd going wild, especially when its leader, a stunning Michael Jackson look-a-like, went into his routine.

The excitement went up a notch when the 34 contestants streamed to centre-stage against the backdrop of the contest's theme song, Dancehall Queen for Life, and after introducing themselves, began unveiling breathtaking dancing skills. The tempo never dropped as the contestants went through the various rounds.

A Michael Jackson look-a-like doing his thing.

Boom Boom showing her agility.

Tiffany Hewitt gets creative.

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