Mon | May 25, 2020

Garth Rattray | Dalton’s priceless words

Published:Sunday | December 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I came across Dalton Harris' 'X Factor UK' 2018 audition (on YouTube) several weeks ago. It was stunning, and I was enthralled.

I only watched his performance, but I was convinced that if he did not win that competition, something must be very wrong. He was extremely nervous, but he got it together, so much so that I was totally blown away by his interpretation of Sorry Seems To be The Hardest Word.

The first note out of his mouth made the judges sit up and take notice. He was so emotional during the song that he almost lost it totally, but managed to sing to the very end. By that time, his eyes were welling up with tears and the appreciative cheers from the audience precipitated an even greater emotional response.

When lead judge Simon Cowell asked him about his emotional state, he explained a little about his very sad childhood. It was so sad that the room fell silent, a lot of total strangers were on the verge of tears, and one audience member even remarked, "There's a lot of love in this room, I hope he feels it."

Two of the judges were so moved by his performance and by his palpable pain that they went on stage and hugged him. These were both foreign celebrities, from Europe, and of a different race and culture. They had nothing in common with Dalton except their love of music.

Everyone heard the words that he sang so well, but I wonder how many heard his comments after being hugged by the two celebs who felt compelled to comfort that very talented, sad, hurt Jamaican youth standing all alone on that stage. As his nervous demeanour evaporated, he thanked them and said, "You see this on TV and you thought, that's not gonna be me because I'm a gangsta, right?"

As the competition progressed and the accolades flowed more and more, Dalton opened up from deep within. His confidence grew and his singing became seemingly flawless. He grew bolder and bolder and increasingly expressive, all of which enhanced his showmanship and endeared him to the worldwide audience.

Soon it became evident that Dalton's appearance on the show was akin to that of a professional guest performer. The superlatives grew more incredible until the judges were at a loss for complimentary words. The love that he was shown fuelled his confidence and liberated his inner talent.

He commented that he felt more love in that strange land than he ever did before. I suspect that most fans were so taken by what and how Dalton sang that they never heard what he said.

There are several important lessons here.

Watching Dalton tells us that our children need love in order to grow and mature. They need love to realise their full potential. Children and adolescents not only need love, they also need respect. These things will bring out the good in our youngsters. It's been proven that showing love and respect can alter any violent tendencies in impressionable minds.




Another important observation was Dalton's ability to communicate, because he was competent in the English language. If he were restricted by only being able to express himself mainly in Jamaican dialect, in spite of his singing talent, he would not have connected with the audience, never been able to relate his sad childhood, and never gain the admiration of the audience and voting public from all across the globe.

Dalton proved that our children need love, respect and the tools to allow them to compete and survive anywhere. We must stop being aggressive and intimidating parents. Dalton's singing was golden, but his own words were priceless. Listen.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and