Massassi stunned to win festival prize

  • Bundle of talent: Massassi Maxwell-Smith, second left, won the 2019 Bermuda Festival for Performing Arts On Stage Competition, earning a prize of $1,500. Here she is shown with John Rankin, the Governor, and veteran singers Gita Blakeney-Saltus and Sheila Smith (Photograph supplied)
  • Singer and songwriter: Massassi Maxwell-Smith won the 2019 Bermuda Festival for Performing Arts On Stage Competition, earning a prize of $1,500 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A 15-year-old schoolgirl got a surprise birthday present of $1,500 after she won a Bermuda Festival talent competition.

Massassi Maxwell-Smith, who celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, swept the board at the festival’s On Stage Competition at Hamilton’s City Hall on Wednesday.

She admitted she was stunned she had won. Massassi said: “I felt very, very, very nervous while I was singing, but it felt good. When I finished singing, the applause was crazy.

“I didn’t expect them to be as loud and as long as they were with all their clapping and cheering.

“That was a great present — definitely the best yet.”

The competition, part of the monthlong Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, saw Massassi and other youngsters perform songs with jazz ensemble the Wall Street Band.

Massassi performed Almost There, from the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, and her self-penned song, called Mello Vibes, in front of a packed auditorium.

The Saltus Grammar School pupil from Pembroke said that she jumped at the chance to perform Mello Vibes at the concert because she wanted to perform an original song.

She explained: “That’s the first song that I’ve done all by myself.

“I found the material, I wrote all the lyrics and the melody, and I didn’t ask for any help. I just wanted something to vibe to — just to sit there and do my homework to and relax to.

“I found a nice beat first and then I wrote the song to it.”

She added the song, which took about five days to write, was inspired by a close friend.

She said: “In the song, she’s represented as a sunflower and it’s about how you just need to take it easy and make sure that you shape the world instead of the world shaping you.”

Massassi prepared for the event months before by studying her previous performances and working out her stage presence.

She explained: “I have a recording of me singing both songs and I would play the songs and lip-synch them while working on my actions and how I would interact with the crowd.”

Delopeena Maxwell-Smith, her mother, said: “When she found out that she won she said to me ‘This is so unexpected, look at all this talent.

“I thought that I didn’t have a chance because everyone here is so talented and I’m so impressed by everyone here’.”