July 22, 2011
Meet season 8 Digicel Rising Stars contestants
First there were 12 and now there are eight. Get to know the finalists of the eighth season of Digicel's Rising Stars. Only you can decide who is talented enough to be Jamaica's next Rising Star!
This spunky 22-year-old, who hails from August Town in St Andrew, is a graduate of Papine High School and currently works as an entertainment coordinator at the Ibero Star Hotel in Montego Bay. Latoya Jackson (Latty J) has been singing from primary school, but really shone in her high school choir, where she and her group won numerous silver and gold medals in the JCDC Festival competition between 2001 and 2006. Latty J received her most meaningful award from the competition in her final year of high school (2006), the Female Vocalist of the Year. Receiving a part-time scholarship to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as part of her award, Latty J went to the college part-time before being quickly swept up into the working world.
Latty's, hopefully, soon-to-be-fulfilled short term goals include an album as soon as she has finished the competition, and being signed to a record label. The mother of a soon to be three-year-old toddler loves jazz, and wants nothing more than for you to "vote for me"!
Representing the bread basket parish of St Elizabeth, though only hailing from the small town of Balaclava, this adorable youngster, who is actually 16 is an upper ninth-grade student at the Holmwood Technical High School in Manchester. A member of his school's table tennis team, and the school' choir, Delando has a passion for singing and has sang in local school concerts. He hopes to one day become a popular recording artiste, or find some other career in music which he will equally enjoy.
'I just hope that I make it far and I wish the best to my competitors, was his simple, yet heartfelt reply when asked what he hoped to gain from the competition.
When asked about his family support he replied genuinely: "My mother especially has always been there from the beginning, and my father helps me out when he can, but I give thanks same way."
The bubbly and vivacious Annette Fraser is a 20-year-old with a massive voice. Anna who is representing her community of Seaview Gardens in Kingston, is a graduate of the Pembroke Hall High School, and currently works as a sales representative at Book Wizard, a book distribution company. Anna, who has been singing in church all her life, admits that this is her first singing competition, and promises to give it her all.
Anna plans to return to school in September to finish up some CXC science subjects so that she can move on to do her degree in electrical engineering at the University of Technology. When asked if this is where she plans on spending her Digicel Rising Star winnings, she answered "of course! Who, a me and mi daughter unno!" she said boasting about her brilliant three-year-old.
Representing her parish of St Thomas, Chantal Lamont, the mysterious and intriguing Tash, is a 17-year-old graduate of Yallahs High School. Raised primarily by her grandmother, Tash's upcoming goals right now are becoming Jamaica's next Digicel Rising Star, and continuing her education at the Edna Manley College, studying everything the school has to offer. Tash has sang with her school choir, performed at concerts, karaokes and has been participating in the JCDC Festival competition since primary school, and has quite a few gold medals to her name. Not only is she in the business of entertaining, this active young lady is also an avid sportswoman, "I play netball, do track and field, play football and dance." she said proudly.
When asked about what she hoped to achieve from the competition, she replied: "A career in music to widen my mind in music, and to further my education."
Courtney Morris, or the ever-blazing Jah Flaamez, is a 34 year old Electrical Engineer at JH Dunston Electrical Engineering and Contractors. Hailing from Mountain View in Kingston, Jah Flaamez is a past student of Kingston College, and of Maggotty High School in St Elizabeth. Singing since age seven, Jah Flaamez has sung on high school choirs and with the Gospel groups The Emblem and Gospel Bells. Not only a soulful entertainer, Jah Flaamez strives to give back to his community, and is a motivational speaker for at-risk youth in a programme called Men with a Message, a part of the Citizen's Security and Justice Programme CSJP under the Ministry of National Security.
When asked what he hoped to achieve through the competition, he said simply, "I hope to achieve musical exposure."
When asked about his long term goals, this father of five girls, and a one-month-old son, said seriously, "I want to become a musician, and still have my electrical engineering in my head and in my hand."
"Dominic Young captures the creative side of Michael Allen. I'm the easy going, normal human being and Dominic Young is the artiste at work," said 18-year-old Michael Allen, who will continue to go by his creative alter ego for the duration of the competition. An ardent student, Dominic is a recent graduate of Cornwall College in Montego Bay, and will be pursuing his bachelor's in the Performing Arts and Music at the Edna Manley College in the fall. Young has been singing since primary school and was a part of both his Primary and High School choirs, and like most of our Stars, started singing in church. Representing the entire city of Montego Bay, this ex-track and field athlete is a "beach bum" who loves to party, and do trick biking on his BMX bicycle.
When asked what he hoped to achieve through the competition, he had his answer ready, "Exposure, in terms of exposing Jamaica to the Dominic Young brand, to classic, real, conscious reggae music, and reggae fusion."
26-year-old Rocio Graham or simply, Rocio, is a graduate of Clarendon College in her original Parish of Clarendon. Rocio represents not only Jamaica, but her second home, the Turks and Caicos islands, where she was a hair dresser for a few years after high school. Rocio now lives and works in Montego Bay at Secrets Resorts and Spa where she is an Entertainment Co-ordinator. Rocio has sang on both her prep and high school choirs, at community events, and even did a short stint in the local entertainment group Ashe.
"I hope to be 2011's Digicel Rising Star, and even if I don't win, just the exposure. I just want Jamaica to see me, and see where that will get me from here." She said when asked what she hoped to gain through the competition.
VOH, or Voices of Harpers is "A vocal band that specialises in clean, positive music." VOH began when a group of church brothers, who consider themselves blood brothers, began to sing on their church choir at the Church of God and Saints of Christ. Why Voice of Harpers? "We use our voices to play the harp, we are harpers."
These harmonious young men grew up together, and are for the most part blood-related: Marville and Mikhail Williams are brothers and Nickoy Shand and Benaudo Hall are their cousins, while Donovan Leon is their church brother.
Meet the Harpers:
Benaudo Hall (26-year-old), is a graduate of Dunoon Park Technical High School, and went on to do the diploma programme at the Jamaican-German Automotive School, JAGAS. Benaudo currently works at Toyota Jamaica as the sole air conditioning technician.
Marville Williams (27-year-old) is a past student of Excelsior High School and Jose Marti Technical High School, and is currently a student at the University of Technology, doing a diploma in construction engineering. Marville currently works at the Ministry of Education as an architectural technician, and eight months ago became the father of an adorable baby girl.
Nickoy Shand (24-year-old), is a past student of Tacky High School in St Mary, and of the Stony Hill Heart Academy, where he did a diploma in food and beverage preparation. Nickoy currently works with Vanguard Security Limited as a security guard, but his dream is to open his own restaurant.
Also 24, Donovan Leon Jr is a proud graduate of Calabar High School, and is currently a student at the University of the West Indies, where he is pursuing an under graduate degree in mathematics. Donovan is the only member of VOH who participated in the JCDC Festival competition in high school, and has his gold and silver medals to show for it! Donovan is looking forward to finishing his degree and pursuing a career in the actuarial sciences.
Another 24-year-old, and the final member of VOH, Mikhail Williams is a past student of Wolmer's Boys High School and Kingston Technical High School. Mikhail also did the diploma program at JAGAS and currently works at Precision Graphics as a post press assistant.
When asked what they hoped to gain from the competition, Donavon Leon said: "We want to show that we are not the stereotypical group. When you hear some groups you know they must be from Jamaica, we want to break away from that and show other genres, and show that there is still clean talent here in Jamaica."