-by Nadine White-
On Tuesday 24th September, the world witnessed Jamaican songbird Tessanne Chin audition for the US version of the talent search programme ‘The Voice’. Unsurprisingly, she wowed all four of the judges (Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine) as approximately 14.93 million viewers looked on.
She subsequently trended on Twitter – with celebrities such as Romain Virgo, Lady Saw, Sean Paul and Lennox Lewis tweeting their support. She has since soared, sailing through the ‘battle’ rounds and earning herself a well-deserved spot on the live show segment.
Describing music as her “bread and butter” when she’s back home, Tessanne first came onto the reggae scene in 2006 with her runaway hit ‘Hideaway’ and has been recording ever since.
Hailing from a musical family, her talent is truly undeniable! And naturally, those from the Island of Jamaica have been absolutely rooting for her, with many posting their favourite tracks from the singer, commenting on their steadfast admiration for her voice.
Heart-warming as it is, why has it taken Tessanne coming on an international platform for her to receive well-deserved recognition of her talent?
Whilst the widespread encouragement is obviously well-intended and very valuable, it echoes the importance of nurturing and appreciating talent as it is and not based on its geographical station.
For instance, it is widely speculated that Bob Marley was not duly acknowledged in Jamaica for much of his career! Whether or not that’s true, the fact remains that he did record his best work (‘Exodus’, 1977) in London during a self-imposed exile. Apparently he was taken a bit more seriously in his homeland after that point.
The sudden influx of patriotic support which tends to pour in once home-grown talent ventures overseas is not only restricted to the West Indies; it can be the same elsewhere.
British singer Maxi Priest experienced this around the beginning of his career and during a recent conversation with him, he said “we tend to think the grass is greener and when an artist is local, they are sometimes overlooked because they’re accessible”.
UK Lover’s Rock Crooner Lloyd Brown has bitterly complained about the lack of support from the UK disc jockeys on many occasions – he’s currently reaping bookings in America. Speaking of America, that’s the only place I can think of that doesn’t treat their talent this way because there is no better place to go to and ‘buss’, to be honest!
South London born DJ Natty B received his ‘big break’ via a former powerhouse radio platform in North West London (1988). Now a leading reggae DJ in the UK, he laughed as he too reflected, “on the whole South London didn’t really want to know…although I did have my little support”.
The moderate support from one’s home base is usually a given and, to be fair, Tessanne (a former protégée of Jimmy Cliff) and Bob Marley have always had a certain amount of support from Jamaica. Same with Maxi Priest, Lloyd Brown and Natty, as far the UK goes.
However, the fact remains that when one of ‘the bunch’ voyage overseas – we look at them differently. I suppose this is true of anyone who exceeds expectations, but it’s a ‘wagonist’ approach! It’s time to start giving our talent the ratings that is owed before others cotton on. A bit like a relationship, really.