When Digicel Rising Stars began searching for talent in 2004 not many people realized then just how big the show would be six completed seasons later. Many skeptics viewed it as just another talent show, but during its six years on air the Digicel Rising Stars team has arguably unearthed and discovered more talent from across Jamaica than any other talent competition in Jamaica’s history.
In 2004 the Digicel Rising Stars search began with the team’s first stop in Port Antonio where hundreds showed up to showcase their talent for the judges. But little did most people know that a humble shoe seller from Portland named Cavan who was discovered in that very first audition would walk away with the first title of Digicel Rising Star.
Cavan describes the win as a humbling and overwhelming experience: “It was a life changing moment and I was overwhelmed that Jamaica believed enough in my talent to vote me as the first Digicel Rising Star.”
In Season 2 it was a clash of vocals with a showdown that went crazy with the finals at Emancipation Park in Kingston. It was the teenager discovered at the Kingston audition Christopher Martin versus an escallion farmer from the bread basket parish of St. Elizabeth. The vocal battle lines were drawn with Chris and Noddy Virtue delivering superb performances week after week. Fans were so enthralled by the rivalry that thousands crammed into the Emancipation Park venue to find out who won. It was also the first year that vendors capitalized on the Digicel Rising Stars phenomenon by selling paraphernalia of the two finalists. An overcrowded Emancipation Park with over-exuberant fans led to a stampede which saw that show being cancelled. When the dust settled at a more somber final show, Christopher Martin was announced as the winner of Digicel Rising Stars 2005.
Season 3 saw the smooth sounds and stylish dressing of the male group One Third going where no other group had gone before. There were always several male groups entering the Digicel Rising Stars competition but One Third had something different, that extra special aura that placed them heads and shoulders above all the male groups who have graced the Digicel Rising Stars stage before them. With their crisp sound, smooth harmony and well choreographed dance moves, the men of One Third had the women eating out of their hands. The group easily mesmerized females as they went across the country performing. This was probably the loudest Digicel Rising Stars season as fans screamed uncontrollably when these men belted out the tunes.
One Third group member Adrian Campbell says the group was so special because of all the hard work they put in: “We didn’t approach the competition like most individuals and groups would. We first acknowledged that whenever a product is packaged properly it’s a better sell and that’s what we brought to Jamaica. It was not just about knowing songs and performing them but the overall package and preparation was always the key.”
Season 4 saw the emergence of Romaine Virgo a teenager who many people first saw on television in another competition, All Together Sing. Fresh out of high school, Romaine had a powerful voice that easily betrayed his years. After coming up against some formidable females like Inga Stewart and Jodiann Pantry, Romaine brought his best performances in the final few shows to secure a win.
In 2008, history was made when the first female winner was crowned Digicel Rising Star. Cameal Davies achieved that honour: “For me to be the first female it was such an overwhelming feeling. I cried and those tears were tears of joy and tears of accomplishment. Because being the first female is like being an ambassador for all the other females who didn’t win.”
Season 6 gave birth to another female ambassador as Brown Sugar ensured that the female power remained ever present. Known for her wide array of Blonde wigs, the Montego Bay singer blew the other contestants away with her superb vocal ability and commanding stage presence.
Ever since the competition began in 2004 the females who turned up to showcase their talents have held their own snatching at least one spot in the top three every season. Ironically the third place has gone to a female from Season 1 until now. Anthony Miller’s wildcard Diana Rutherford was the first female to occupy third place, Portland’s song bird Danea Deacon snatched third in 2005. In Season 3 and 4 Montego Bay songstresses Susan Perkins and Inga Stewart copped third places. The all female teenage group SLR held the spot in Season 5 while Adena Myrie copped third place last season. Also of note is that the women have captured 12 of the 18 top places (first to third) since the competition began.
After six successful seasons, the Digicel Rising Stars competition enters Season 7 on June 6 with great expectations as Jamaicans get ready to choose their next great talent.