…the intensity of the competition has grown more as the past contestants have been making their mark in the field.
For the lucky few who make it through to the top-ten of the Digicel Rising Stars talent competition, this is just the beginning of the road until they are declared winners by Jamaica’s vote. In previous seasons, Jamaica has seen the unearthing of a kaleidoscope of new talents in the music industry with Cavan, Chris Martin and One Third (Season 1, 2 and 3 winners respectively) and most recently Romain Virgo.
The winners of the first three seasons were offered management contracts from GeeJam (Season 1) and then Shocking Vibes (Season 2-4). The management contracts were dispensed in 2007 and replaced with recording contracts with the winner receiving the opportunity to record a minimum of two singles, while the second and third place finalists got one single each. Since this, the intensity of the competition has grown more as the past contestants have been making their mark in the field.
“It’s been great, it has afforded me many opportunities,” remarked season 2 winner of Digicel Rising Star, Chris Martin. Martin opined, “I love singing and always wanted to get in the field so Digicel Rising Stars was like a catalyst, coming around at the right time to help me attain that goal.”
Christopher Martin, also referred to as the ‘Governor of Back Pasture’, rose to fame in the 2005 season of Digicel Rising Stars and captured the second season title of winner, while simultaneously putting his small St. Catherine community on the map. Since then Chris Martin has been taking the music industry by storm, performing on a number of major shows including Island Explosion, Portland Jerk Festival, Jamaica Carnival, Barrington Levy’s Dancehall Rock, Spring Break 2k6 and Sumfest 2007.
Winston Lewis better known as Cavan, the first winner of the competition is himself doing well in the industry. Cavan became a household name and crowd favourite after his emotive original hit Pain in the premiere of Digicel Rising Stars in 2004. Since winning, Cavan has released the single and video for Pain and has been busy trying to advance his career.
“Digicel Rising Stars helped me in getting out there…it made me a household name. With people knowing me it’s easier for me to actually go out there in the business,” commented the first winner of the talent contest. The man who set the pace for future Digicel Rising Star winners and is considered shy said: “Because of the competition, it’s easy for me to approach a producer wherever and feel confident that they will work with me…and to Digicel I give a lot of respect for that.”
Speaking to his absence from the frontline of the music business Cavan said: “No, I’ve not gone from the music business. I’m just been doing some work in the studio in preparation for my album.” The Portlander explained his debut album never had a definite release date and he promises to keep the Jamaican people updated on his movements. Cavan continues: “My music hasn’t been off the market, Ron Mushette and Scott Wilson has been giving my single Pressure heavy rotation and I’m grateful. That isn’t all that there is and I’m now working with song writers to get some more music out there.”
Notorious for their rendition of UB40’s Homely Girl, Miguel Walters, Alpheus O. Johnson and Adrian Campbell forms the first group to win the competition: One Third. ‘The Fraction’, as they were nicknamed because of their name, have smashed musical boundaries with their charismatic style and electrifying performances, with the mere mentioned of the name One Third creates pandemonium at the engagements at which they appear.
The 2006 Digicel Rising Stars’ winners have performed at noted events on the Jamaican Dancehall calendar and private functions for cooperate Jamaica, including the Brian McKnight Concert in Jamaica and Irie Jamborie in New York in 2007. One Third has also shared stages with prolific names in entertainment business including their inspiration the legendary Manhattans, Air Supply, Alton Ellis and Regina Belle.
Original material is the best sign that any group or artiste can display that they are getting out in the market and One Third has made their stamp with the release of several of their own singles; two of the most popular are Baby Boo and Candle Light. Adding more to the group’s assets is their own label: Fraction Entertainment.
One Third describe their music career so far as good: “Its been great since winning the competition…just two years and things have really been shaping up for us,” said Miguel. With obvious ecstasy burning in his voice he continued: “We have been several places, we been running all over in North America and hip hopping all over the Caribbean. Even though we haven’t been to Europe our name is known there and we’ve been getting some calls from some promoters there and we were Artiste of the month on New Style radio in Birmingham UK. So that is our next anticipate market now,” remarked Miguel, who has now taken a break from University of Technology (UTech), where he was pursuing a degree in Business Administration.
Romain Virgo, last year’s winner, is the newest kid on the block. Even thou Virgo will lose that title to the new winner in a few weeks he has been having his share of fame and fortune. “I haven’t been performing at any ‘big shows’ or calendar events yet, but I have performed at schools, and private functions for cooperate Jamaica and other clients,” said the son of Stepney District, St. Ann, whose shot to national prominence was with the Aabuthnott Gallimore High School, where he led his choir in the TVJ Schools Choir Competition.
Virgo also boasts his original single Can’t Sleep and also his remix of Toots and the Maytals’ 1976 hit Time Tough, one of his now-famous accolades so far, which many will see when they buy a bottle of Pepsi. Pepsi Cola Jamaica recently announced the introduction of what they styled as a special edition label for the 2007 Rising Stars’ winner which features ‘the Rum Ram King’, Romain Virgo. The collaboration is a part of Pepsi’s promotion for customers to win prizes in the beverage company’s 2008 Rising Stars’ promotion. Romain has made history by being the first Digicel Rising Stars’ winner, as well as being the first Jamaican entertainer to be featured on the label of Jamaica’s most popular cola beverage.
“Digicel has helped me in launching myself in the music industry,” opined the youngster who is now pursuing a degree at the Edna Manley School of the Performing Arts. Virgo continued: “My success so far is best summarized in me winning the competition and Digicel having the competition in the first place, which I’m grateful for; As well as the Jamaican people who supported and continue to support me. My advice to the contestants in season 5 is to make sure to choose the right songs for your voice and personality and to the winner, make the best of this opportunity.”
No one knows what is in store for the winner of Digicel Rising Stars Season 5 other than the slated prizes of over $1 million, the chance to release two singles and a music video. But if the successes of these past winners are anything to go by, much is in store for that lucky person or persons.