December 10, 2019

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On the 21st March 2015, L-Għanja tal-Poplu, a local music competition known to breathe life into the music industry, will be turning thirty-nine. Following the huge success of "Jien Ma Naħdimx", composed by Mark Scicluna to the lyrics of Rita Pace, with vocals provided by Karen DeBattista, a surge of interest was reported, as a record number of 105 submissions were received. in partnership with the organising committee has been given the opportunity to have a chat with the sixteen competing acts, whilst also presenting an exclusive 30 second snippet of each respective entry in contention. Act number one is Joe George Micallef, and his entry bears the name "Illum Jien Pensjonant", a song which he composed with lyrics by Alfred C Sant.

Having been in the shadows of an extremely successful 12 months for your children, 4 members of the group Firelight, the Maltese ambassadors at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, how difficult is it to move into the spotlight, and identify with a younger audience? 

I have been in showbiz for a long time (over half a century) and i will always be till my last breath. Entertainment is something i love, it does not matter to me whether it's a younger or a mature audience, as long as it's a good audience, because sometimes you get an audience like a brick wall, but still, you do not know who is out there, so you have to give your best. 

Yes my kids had a very good year, and my wife and I are very very proud of them all. They all have a talent in their own right, and I love to do a concert with them with all our original songs because between us we can make a quadriple album, because we are always recording stuff for ourselves and others, I think Wayne is a fantastic recording engineer and a good teacher as well because he's always showing me tricks for my recordings. So you see, i have never been in the shadow BUT a part of them and I love it ...

“Illum Jien Pensjonant”, which you composed, to the lyrics of Alfred C Sant is the song that you will be presenting in this years’ edition of L-Għanja tal-Poplu. Would you care to explain the meaning behind the lyrics and the genre that the song encompasses?

Alfred.C.Sant is a great lyric writer and i love being involve with the songs we write together, plus I consider him as a partner and a very good close friend.

The song (“Illum Jien Pensjonant”) is about  the chapters in our lives. Starting from when you are a baby, then become a teenager, then you get married and have children, well, the song is about me personally (plus other pensioners) where in this chapter I am a pensioner and i am saying it all, I thank GOD for giving me  such a good life, while my life fades away. The genre of the song is a happy one i think it will go down well with the maltese because i am sure i will be connecting to the audience with this one, like “Il-Kuġin Ġiljan”.

In 2015, L-Għanja tal-Poplu is turning thirty-nine (39), and during the years, it has earned a positive reputation, by virtue of breathing life into the music industry. It is no secret that the lyrics of each entry could cause controversy amongst the public. What is your view with regards to this statement, and do you believe that your entry challenges public perception?

I respect all the ones involved in this festival, because first of all, they are all volunteers and they are doing a great job to keep the maltese songs heard for a long,long time. L-Għanja tal-Poplu  is a great festival for local songwriters, musicians because it will be live, each song will be played live with all their individual musicians, something which is very hard to organize, and after all this. 

it's a shame for some radio presenters that they do not appreciate all this, i get very angry when they do not play maltese songs as much as they will play other international songs. There should be a law in Malta where all programmes on the radio and television will have a percentage of maltese songs being played every hour of the day. Otherwise how are they ever gonna be popular.

Would you like to say anything to our readers at

What I like to say to your readers is come and join us and have some fun, because we are gonna take you to a journey full of musical maltese talent festival. I hope L-Għanja tal-Poplu will go on for a long time. On behalf all the singers and myself, and all the musicians that are gonna be involved in this fantastic friendly maltese festival, I would like to thank all the members of the organising committee. Always respect Maltese artists, that's all they want from all of the public. Hope to see you there xxx

Published in Local Music News

L-Għanja tal-Poplu, a local music competition, known to breathe life into the music industry, officially takes on a new dimension as of today, as 16 entries out of the original 105 submissions, will be part of the 39th edition of the competition. It has been a rigorous selection process, involving 5 professional jury members, whose first task was to shortlist the best 35, out of which they had to bring down by half, once more.

As a music competition, L-Għanja tal-Poplu prides itself with presenting the song-titles, composers and authors first, prior to making an announcement with the respective performer of the song. This is due to the fact that the singer could be altered from the demo version to the final version, as stipulated by the rules and regulations issued by the organising committee. The names of the artists will be confirmed in the coming hours. 

Battibekk – Rita Pace (Emil Calleja Bayliss, Paul Attard, Rita Pace)

Bit-Tlikki Tlikki - Christabelle Curmi (Clifton Casha, Carmel Dalli)

Ċans Ieħor - Raquel Galdes (Daniel Paul Farrugia, Norbert Borg)

'Charlie' l-Artist – Michela Dalli (Rita Attard, Andrew Zahra)

Darbtejn Insiru Tfal - Jeffrey Scicluna (Rita Pace, Jeffrey Scicluna)

Dawn l-Għajnejn - Ana Maria Grima (Rita Attard, Siobhan Vassallo)

Fejn Marru t-Tfal? - Michela Galea (Rita Pace, Renato Briffa)

Ġismi - Ecca u Pell (Mark Pellicano, Matthew Pellicano)

Illum Jien Pensjonant - Joe George Micallef (Alfred C. Sant, Joe George Micallef)

Il-Lupu Li Tarah Hi Biss - Denise Spiteri (Mark Laurence Zammit)

Il-Malti - Mario Debono (Mario Debono)

L-Għawdxija - Ta' Verna Folk Band (Augusto Cardinali)

Min Taħseb li Int? - Teddie Zammit (Teddie Zammit)

Niftakarna - Abstract Acoustic Duo (Gabriel Cassar)

Pjan – Simone Gauci (Ingrid Vella, Augusto Cardinali)

Waqt li Qed Nitfi d-Dawl - Mark Cachia (Mark Cachia)

The 39th edition of L-Għanja tal-Poplu will be taking place on the 21st March 2015, within the Sir Temi Żammit Hall at the University of Malta. The renowned local music competition not only promotes Maltese as a main language, but delves into the social theme element, hoping to raise awareness about several worldly topics. We urge you to stay tuned to even through Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news about L-Għanja tal-Poplu 2015.

Source: L-Għanja tal-Poplu (Official Facebook)

Published in L-Għanja Tal-Poplu

“Drop in number of Eurovision entries” is the name of an article that appeared in The Times of Malta earlier today, with direct reference to the fact that there was a fewer turnout that usual in the number of submissions that the Public Broadcasting Services revealed. made this quite clear in a subtle manner when confirming a host of names, both of vocalists and songwriters who did not put their first foot forward.

These included none other than; Sophie DeBattista, Davinia, Claudia Faniello, Ruth Portelli, De Bee, Pamela, Ray Agius, Alfred C Sant, Paul Giordimaina and Fleur Balzan. Nevertheless though, despite the drop in artists, Anton Attard, Head of Delegation on behalf of the Public Broadcasting Services confirmed to the leading local newspaper that the issue more or less deals with repeat submissions, songs that have been submit every year with the hope that they get through.

Whilst song submissions do eventually get through, others do not and if one looks at the shortlist of the past three to four years, some songs would always be recognizable. Artists whom can confirm to have submit to the 2015 edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest include none other than; Domenique, Franklin Calleja, Izzy, Jessika, Kaya, Romina Mamo, Daniel Testa, Fabrizio Faniello, Dayle Camilleri and Ryan Paul Abela.

Speculation on Ira Losco is continuing to mount and with Moira Delia landing the top job of hosting the upcoming edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, the news is only but confirmed. Her name among those shortlisted later on this month will definitely be the worst kept secret in recent years. We urge you to stay tuned to even through Facebook & Twitter for all the latest news.

Source: Times of Malta,

Published in Local Music News

Ray Agius & Alfred C Sant, veteran songwriters whose reputation garnered repute throughout the past three decades after being responsible for some of the most iconic tracks ever to be written, including Malta's entry in the 1995 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest; "Keep Me In Mind" have been in touch with the editorial team at announcing that they have not submit any entries for the 2015 edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, both as a duo and individually.

Having always been a force to be reckoned with, their presence in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest will surely be noted with their most recent success stories being; "Let Your Heart Talk" by Franklin and "Answer With Your Eyes" by Amber. It is worth keeping in mind that Ray Agius & Alfred C Sant went to the Eurovision Song Contest on another occasion, in 1996 with 'In a Woman's Heart' and in 1997 with "Let Me Fly". All their results saw Malta rank in the top ten. We urge you to stay tuned to even through Facebook & Twitter for all the latest news about the 2015 edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest.


Published in Local Music News

Ray Agius, one of the most distinguished songwriters in the local music industry has long worked with author Alfred C Sant creating some of the most beautiful and iconic tracks including the nations' entry at the 1995 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, that entitled Keep Me In Mind with vocals provided by Mike Spiteri. The veteran male vocalist never shied away from a challenge and as a matter of fact, decided to use his experience in the industry to help the nations' participation within the Pan-European event on a couple of years. One of his most recent original songs is the one entitled All I'm After Is You written by his longtime collaborators.

Last week, Mike Spiteri as a recent winner of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza with the track B'Rieda tal-Azzar composed by Ray Agius to the lyrics of Alfred C Sant was invited on the programme Indifest hosted by Mark Azzopardi and Christine Haber as a special guest. The male singer also tried to return to the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2010 by submitting the song Twenty Thousand Leagues failing to get through to the final stage of the competition. Mike Spiteri is a true veteran and is considered as one of the leading figures in the industry due to his husky voice which would not be out of place within either a rock band or the Italian music industry. Stay tuned to for all of the latest news.

Source: Indifest

Published in Local Music News
Saturday, 12 January 2013 01:45

MESC 2013: A Review of 'Let Your Heart Talk'

Malta will be taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest for the twenty-sixth year according to the record books and the results have been rather varied during this period noting that there have been first and second runner-up finishes along with a number of top ten placings but non-qualification has also been on the cards as of late even at times when the nation had been tipped of making it through only to be disappointed on the evening by a dismal performance. The Maltese preselection which has been coined as the Malta Eurovision Song Contest has always been really intriguing and some of the best talent turns up to try their aim to represent the nation and indeed, promotion is key, hence the investment of the Public Broadcasting Services in radio and television exposure. IN the meantime, is carrying out a set of professional reviews with the points awarded through a Eurovision system seemingly unveiled a winner through the programme Sas-Sitta on NET Television just days after the competition comes to an end. The sixth entry to be reviewed is Let Your Heart Talk performed by Franklin, composed by Ray Agius and penned by Alfred C Sant.

Franklin is a relatively up and coming performer in the local music scene noting that his fame came about throughout the summer months by virtue of competing in the reality talent show known as Don't Stop Me Now hosted by Eileen Montesin on NET Television with one of the four resident judges being none other than 1994 Eurovision Song Contest representative; Moira Stafrace. At the end of the series, the male performer had been dubbed as one of the artists to watch out for in the future especially having had the opportunity to performer a duet with another former representative in the form of Ludwig Galea during the final. He was revealed as the winner and that was just the beginning of the fan craze behind the performer that has become Franklin. It is important to denote that despite not taking up singing in recent years in favour of other skills such as modelling, Franklin was one of the finalists in the Malta Junior Eurosong competition a couple of years back, with the track Give Me Time which had only managed to finish in fifteenth position out of the sixteen that were eventually competing during the evening. Nevertheless, Franklin then and now is completely different and this shows through his extremely wide vocal range performing on the weekly show Ħadd Għalik which is produced by Where's Everybody and hosted by Angie Laus.

Franklin had originally spoke of his intentions to participate in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest to before it was revealed that he had indeed submitted two entries to the competition and was somewhat blessed to have been selected as one of the semi-finalists that will be competing at the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre in Ta' Qali on the 1st February. The entry that he will be presenting entitled Let Your Heart Talk is well written to show off his vocals and somewhat reminiscent to some of the best songs released by Leona Lewis as heard above in the form of Here I Am but it is more a case of staying true to his main genre. Songwriting credit in this entry goes to Maestro Ray Agius who is responsible for the music and Alfred C Sant who took care of the lyrics. Both individuals have been to the Eurovision Song Contest on two occasions, the latter having penned the track Keep Me In Mind (1995) and In a Woman's Heart (1996) and the former having been the composer of Let Me Fly (1997) and Keep Me In Mind (1995). They have worked with a number of artists through the years as a team including Amber, Claudia Faniello and Lawrence Gray amongst others with a number of runner-up finishes in the local competition, the most recent being last year with the track Answer With Your Eyes performed by the aforementioned Amber who has decided to work with a new team in 2013.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 64%

Sharon Vaughn: Impressive song … really impressive singer. Well done.

Martin Isherwood: Chorus pretty but unremarkable. Nice voice with a good range although tuning wobbles in a couple of places. Nice overall but not really special enough to win.

Stano Simor: Franklin has charisma and good voice. This is a good song within it's genre, but a bit old-fashioned. The song is unnecessarily difficult. Falsetto is still not strong enough. Definitely looks good on stage, and that is quite important.

Roberto Meloni: This is the type of song that would suit a musical but I am not sure about it competing in the Eurovision Song Contest. His vocal skills are unremarkable, although the end looks like a tribute to Whitney.

Lina Eriksson: A really beautiful ballad with lovely lyrics. Franklin is a great technical singer. I think this song can sure appeal to Europe. 

Source: Public Broadcasting Services,

Published in Editorials

Presently, the world of Disney Channel has become one of the most intriguing ways of how to create professional performers through the medium of acting and then singing in shows which would air through the same respective programming network. This could surely be the idea that has been taken up by the likes of the Public Broadcasting Services whose stalwart channel, Television Malta has been highly promoting the musical drama series D.R.E.A.M.S which will be returning this upcoming autumn/winter every Wednesday night. There is sheer quality in terms of talented stars and one of them is actually competing in this years' edition of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza in the form of Analise Mifsud who is performing with the name Esilana. The track that she will be performing is entitled Tagħna L-Isbaħ Żmien, composed by Ray Agius and penned by Alfred C Sant. It is to be noted that despite certain people not needing the publicity, it is vital to make sure that everyone is treated the same with Media.Link Communications and working together in making sure that each act is given equal representation in the press through online analysis of each track and even the shooting of a preview video for each as uploaded through YouTube. This is the second to last review noting that Esilana will be performing second this evening.

Ours is the Best Time would be the translation of the song and as opposed to the last couple of tracks which have been presented in our series, this is the one which comes out as a romantic journey between two young lovers which is further emphasized through the use of typical music instruments, especially a guitar solo which helps build up the general context of the track. Esilana speaks to her lover that being young is one of the best things that any being should help promote noting that the future is in their hands to control, with a metaphorical lyric on board, saying that they know what they want out of life and will continue to achieve that together as one. The performer is one of the youngest participants in this years' Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza and she is one of the upcoming stars in the local music scene with many knowing her for promoting minority awareness through her lesbian role in the hit television musical drama series D.R.E.A.M.S alongside the likes of last years' Teenage Category runners-up Michela Dalli and Michela Galea as well as this years' Antoine Kayleigh. This is her second major point when it comes to music and she will surely be taking it all in when it comes to experience.

The name of the performer might be new to many but then again, the songwriters are definitely bringing up a lot of music history between them especially when taking into account that the composer, Ray Agius has been the most successful man in this festival, racking up a total of six victories including for the past two years, those coming with Amber and her track Trid Tapprezza as well as Mike Spiteri and his song B'Rieda tal-Azzar. It is also to be noted that this stage that Ray wrote two songs for the Eurovision Song Contest, these being 1995's Keep Me In Mind by Mike Spiteri and also 1997's Let Me Fly by Debbie Scerri. He has worked predominantly with Godwin Sant, by himself and also with Alfred C Sant throughout the past couple of years and this track has been co-written with the latter. In fact, Alfred C Sant co-wrote both of the songs that went to the Eurovision Song Contest as well as the track for Amber in this competition as well. His most recent achievement was the Malta Eurovision Song Contest with the same female performer finishing in third place singing his track Answer With Your Eyes. You can watch the official video just below and also keep in touch with for the last analysis.

Source: Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza,