by Jodee Brown
Tessanne Chin’s landmark appearance on NBC’s The Voice has not only allowed her to take her career to its highest level yet, but has given her a chance to represent Jamaica musically in ways that have not been seen in quite a while, as most recently evidenced Monday night.
After years of being producing modest hits on the Jamaican music scene, Tessanne decided she was not going to settle for being an afterthought on the local music scene, showed and showed great humility in deciding to enter the American talent show despite being a known, regarded musician in her homeland for nearly 10 years. The Hideaway singer was able to push herself to new heights being on this show and, regardless of how her journey on The Voice ends, will have set a high bar for her fellow Jamaicans to aspire to and allow for many local singers to try that much harder to unlock their potentials to the world.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of five accomplished, pure Jamaican singers who, with varying levels of success to date, could more promotional muscle, hits and deserved recognition for their various talents internationally. Check them out:
Why Ikaya hasn’t gotten a bigger boost than she has since bursting onto the scene in 2009, is a mystery, but she’s still relatively young to garner the press and success her talents deserve.
Divulging from a more raw, Dancehall sound at the turn of this decade paid dividends as she belted out hits like Fly Away, High and Hard Way. Yet, her progress to mainstream stardom has seemingly stagnated since, aside from the odd, awe-inspiring performances on TVJ’s Layers of Soul.
She’s a spirited, underrated performer with solid vocals, sex appeal and diversity in her music, like her song with Busy Signal showed in June. With more songs, shows and press, Ikaya can fulfill her undoubted potential.
#2 D Major and Shuga
Two Penthouse Records acts with strong amounts of talent, D Major (left)and Shuga (right) both have strong, powerful voices that have largely (and sadly) gone mostly unnoticed. That can change with major pushes for both acts.
D Major is a soft-singing, strong and soulful singer with some modest hits to his name, including his recent hit, Real Know Real. He’s an act ideally suited for the ladies with a look and voice that will melt them with ease. If he can find a transcendent hit, continue improving his vocal quality and gain more traction for his songs overseas, D Major could become a major player down the line.
Shuga, formerly Brown Sugar gained nationwide attention after winning Digicel Rising Stars in 2009, but has found mainstream attention hard to come by since. Back-up singing duties to the likes of Da’Ville and Tanya Stephens followed, but after switching her image to a more edgy, risk-taking singer in 2012, she has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance. Hits like 9.58 and My Soul To Jah proved she can have a successful career post-Risng Stars and with more promotion as well as a deeper catalogue will be a force to reckon with down the line.
Randy Richards Photography/natalie-monique.com
She’s an exceptional vocalist, conceptually and intellectually gifted and is drop-dead gorgeous (as this photo obviously proves): The ideal package for a superstar singer in the making.
While she has a very decent catalogue of songs to boast, including Breathe, Supergirl and Make Me Believe You, she’s unfortunately known by most thanks to a nude photo scandal in 2012, triggered by a controversial Jamaican blog. Given her worldly potential and quality as an artist, this should not be the case.
She has the songs, but not the shows, the big ones at least. Aside from a performance atReggae Sumfest 2011, she has hardly featured on any major shows. With more hit songs, appearances on shows like Sumfest and Shaggy and Friends and maybe a couple of collabs with overseas acts, Denyque can be the superstar her talents and personality warrant. Additionally, with Jade Lee, Sean Paul’s former booking agent during his Grammy-winning days backing her, the promotional muscle should only get stronger from here.
#4 Christopher Martin
Make no mistake, Christopher Martinis one of Jamaica’s most established singers of the last decade, churning out a bevy of hits and earning his share of accolades. However, I’ve often been left with the feeling the former Digicel Rising Stars winner should be much more accomplished and rated than he is.
Since that triumph on the popular talent show in 2005, hits such as Take My Wings, Driver, Cheater’s Prayer, Paper Loving and Chill Spot have made him an international success, particularly in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Even with that, Martin still does not get enough recognition for his multiple talents, particularly in the American market, where fellow Rising Stars winner Romain Virgo has made some impact.
An LP, more promotion overseas and continued consistency from this extremely strong vocalist would make him more of a global threat. Could you imagine if he got a shot on ‘The Voice’ himself if he were eligible? He may be in line to win that talent show too given his prowess.
Since the start of Tessanne’s stellar run on The Voice, I’ve been thinking of which pure singer, more than anyone, deserves more international recognition for his or her talents despite their varying levels of success in Jamaica. To me, Alaine fits that bill best.
Like Tessanne, she has number one hits to boast and a high note that will make your eyes bulge. She’s always had the depth, vocal range and songs, likeSacrifice and Rise In Love to make her a major success internationally. But she hasn’t quite reached that plateau yet.
The most attention she has garnered internationally is a feature alongside Shaggy for his 2010 hit, For Your Eyes Only, which topped charts worldwide thanks in part for her sensual chorus. If she could gain such measure with one of her own efforts, with just a little more attention and promotion, she can undoubtedly take this star Jamaican singer’s career to its higher level yet.