It was a night full of spectacular performances from nine contestants vying for a single crown: The ICON. One after another, they took the stage and wooed the crowds and the judges with their beautiful melodies, and mesmerizing poems that connect directly to the soul, and body in a very special way.
However, among the many contestants vying for the ICON crown, the night was stolen by two ladies whose eye-catching performances moved the crowd and judges as they danced in their seats and nodded their heads. They were Jesslyn Li Sa Williams and Alexandra T. Bonar, who respectively won the Spoken World and Music categories for the soulful and insightful poems and music that brings tears to the eyes.
Williams, a graduating senior of the Stella Maris Polytechnic, who was considered an underdog, surprised many during the night of the final with an outstanding display to win the ICON music category ahead of Lewis Sowah, one of the night’s favorite. Throughout her performance, Williams maintained and held the crowd captive with her sweet and lovely voice.
And each time she took the stage, the audience knew something marvelous was about to hit their ears. Despite being shy, Williams, a raw and future star-in-waiting, was a different person when given the mic to perform. She became bold, and outspoken with words that pierce hearts. Her winning song, ‘Enough’, according to her, was dedicated to people that have been discriminated against by church leaders and criticized for their shortcomings when these leaders themselves are not living right.
In a contest where many resort to copying the styles of others, Williams stayed true to her real voice and captured the minds of the judges and the audience with her authenticity and hypnotic voice, filled with memorable lyrics about hate and discrimination.
“I was inspired to pen such a song to create awareness on the discrimination people nowadays face in church as if to say salvation was not paid for us all,” said Lisa. “I know the future is bright but I have to work hard after this win if I want to make an impact.”
Her main contender, Lewis Sowah, who came second, produced a song title ‘Along with You’ a gospel worship music. Throughout the competition, Sowah demonstrated great talent in music but was at the last minute outshone by the eventual winner performances.
The ICON, which is in it first edition, was inspired by the life story of Samantha Diazs, commonly known as ‘Just Sam’, who last year overcame lots of obstacles to win the 2020 edition of American Idol. The ICON aims to identify raw, unheard, and unseen talents from across Liberia and showcase to them to the world. The competition is in two categories, Spoken Word (poetry) and Music, and is organized by Devine Events and Consultancy International. At the grand final, contestants were mandated to sing their own songs and deliver their own poems.
The other ICON winner, Alexandra T. Bonar, is an emerging spoken word genius whose poems explore the intersections of Liberia’s woes as a result of unpatriotism and challenges the established mindset that the country’s problem only rests on the shoulders of the government.
Bonar’s work, which she titled ‘Missive to Liberia’ also explores the themes of unification and heritage as tools that would take Liberia from backwardness to prosperity. With the poem, she offers hope to a county that remains hugely divided and limited in patriotism and reminds Liberians that the future prospects of the country lie in everyone’s hands.
Discussing the thought process behind her work, Bonar said: “It was important for me to address all the ways people attempt to override the narratives of thier own contributions to the country’s problems and, instead, shifting blame everywhere without examine our own sense of guilt.”
Also, Malcolm Smith, who came second behind Bonar with the poem, titled, ‘Monologue of An Inmate’, speaks on the socio-economic condition of the country, which highlights the plights and pains of those forgotten and the ills committed by leaders that have contributed to the suffering of many in their own country. In his work, Smith considered the socio-economic conditions of his fellow citizens as a prison that comes as a result of failed national policies that perpetually keep the people poor.
“We are not even free to study what we want. And if you want to study Chemical Engineering, but it’s not taught in Liberia, you are going to study biology; this is a prison. How can the exchange rate drop, while the prices of goods and services are still high? Spectators are out in the field but, for us, we are seated at our various homes, listening to the radio, this is a prison,” Smith added.