Wednesday, July 6, 2011; Kingston, Jamaica: The eighth season of Digicel Rising Stars boasts the promise of an all new show, with a new host, all new judges, an all new set, all new Chill Room and the return of the Saturday night elimination show. Since it is usually reserved for the third week of the competition, we have yet to see the all new Chill Room, but all of the other changes were warmly welcomed by the Courtleigh Auditorium audience.
The competition said bye, bye to the faithful judges Jamaicans had come to know and trust over the past seven seasons, but said hello to new judges, the multi-talented recording artiste, and queen of Reggae-Fusion, Tessanne Chin, and the multi-faceted radio personality, Disc Jock, producer and artiste, Bambino. Each week a guest judge will fill the third spot, hopefully bringing a little more variety to the judges’ comments. This week the third judge’s spot was filled by the lyrically ingenious, Reggae-Dancehall recording artiste, Tanya Stephens.
Season eight also says hello to a new host, the equally bubbly and beautiful Miss Jamaica World 2005, Terri-Karelle Reid. Reid dropped out of last year’s race to be the competition’s host, stating that it would a conflict of interest with her job at the time. We are just happy to see that she has finally made it onto the show.
Sunday night’s show saw the introduction of the first six semi-finalists, Jermain Burford, Latoya Jackson or ‘Latty J’, Delando Colley, Annette Fraser or ‘Anna’, Stephanie Barnes and the five member Reggae-Jazz harmony, VOH. All of the semi-finalists gave it their all, but only a few really shone bright enough to be stars.
The spunky girl with the big voice, Latty J gave a convincing performance of I Want to Know What Love Is by Mariah Carey. Her unique and soulful voice filled the auditorium and gained her points with the audience and judges alike. The crowd favourite and Diva-in-the-making, Anna, showed off her powerful voice with her rendition of Adele’s Rolling In the Deep, another convincing performance that was received positively by the crowd.
And though it seemed like the ladies would take the night, it was the five distinct voices, blended harmoniously of the members of the vocal band Voice of Harpers or VOH that got the audience on their feet and cheering after their rendition of Barrington Levy’s Too Experienced. Their feel good vibe lead to a feel good performance that rocked the night. While Tessanne commented on the group’s ability to impress an audience with or without music, Bambino said “you definitely ago get the girls wid dah one deh.” he continued “they were on point and very in unison, and I like that.” Tanya Stephens then made mention to the importance of Barrington Levy to Jamaican music and ended her comment saying “Where ever he is… I’m sure him feel proud, I’m sure you didn’t hurt his feelings at all with this one, it sound wicked, and me love it!”
When the series’ stylist T’rone Buchannan decided he wanted the Rising Stars host in a long sleeved, red cocktail dress, he went to the perfect, newly crowned fashion designer to come up with the dress’s concept, and bring his basic idea to life. Shenna Carby, the recent winner of TVJ’s Mission Catwalk designed Terri-Karelle’s first dress of the season, a red ultra-mini cocktail dress which clung to the host in all the right places, and whose zebra print sides and long sleeves gave the appearance of an equally well fitting blazer. Terri-Karelle, who also rocked a pair of silver studded peep-toe sling backs, received cat-calls and wolf-whistles from audience members all night.
As for the contestants, it could be seen that the stylist’s aim was to let their talent shine through, with most of the contestants rocking a simpler look, one more of personal style than of fashion. Hits for the night were Jermain Burford’s black, velvet blazer with silver detailing, Anna’s black, patent leather peep-toes with silver stiletto heels, and Latty J’s entire outfit: a khaki shirt dress with black leggings, and gold peep-toe ankle booties with black appliqué. Stephanie Barnes’ too short and too tight, little black dress however was leaning closer to a miss.
After 16-year-old Delando Colley’s off rendition of Daniel Beddingfield’s If You’re Not the One, Bambino expressed his disappointment stating that the song was not an easy one to sing, having too many falsetto’s and that he had hoped the young contestant would have done something more suited to his voice, like the Michael Jackson song he performed in his Calling Card. Tessanne went into a bit more detail when she said, “I thought this maybe wasn’t the right song, and even if it was the right song it should have been in a different key so that you could have better managed the low and high parts.. there is no doubt that you have a voice.”
Tune into TVJ this Saturday at 9pm to see which four contestants will stay and which two will go home from the first 6, and Sunday at 8pm to meet your second set of semi-finalists. And don’t forget to vote!
Alison ‘Alykhat’ Moss-Solomon