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Supporting vocalists add spice to 'Digicel Rising Stars'

Published:Sunday | September 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Supporting vocalists in this year's Digicel Rising Stars competition.

Amid a 'Digicel Rising Stars' season of energetic dancers, 100-yard dresses simulating water from the moon and unexpected wild-card selections that kept viewers glued to their television sets for the last 13 weeks, one thing that stood out for many were the magnificent supporting vocalists who helped to add spice and dynamism to contestants' performances.

Inhabiting one corner of the stage, these seasoned singers have added well-honed harmonies to contestants performances from the outset, helping to create a full-on experience for listeners and viewers of the show. these professional singers, which include the likes of Ifidel Williams, Kareen Brown, Racquel Hinds, Roslyn Williams, Patrice Mattison and Carl Lee Sharschmidt, have accompanied top performers such as Tessanne Chin, the Wailers, Diana King, Jah Cure and Romain Virgo on stage at concerts both locally and internationally.


Singers need complement


Musical director of 'Digicel Rising Stars', Peter Ashbourne, shared, "Singers need a complement when they sing their songs in order for them to sound complete. A lot of the songs that the contestants cover use background vocals, so that's one more element that can be used to improve their overall performance."

He added, "There's a particular sound that you get when you use three or four vocalists to support a singer. It's known as a 'barbershop harmony', and this seems to work really well with general audiences. The thing is, audiences don't deconstruct performances into the singer and the rhythm section, and the sweetening and the background vocals, and the mixing, and so. They just listen to the performance, and they either like it or they don't. "

Ifidel Williams, one of the primary supporting vocalists on the show, said, "What we do is we enhance a singer's performance said by adding harmonies and presence that help to add life to what they're doing on stage. When you don't have the vocal support you need as a singer, you have to focus on holding that melody line until their performance is finished, and this can detract from their delivery of the song.

"When a singer has supporting vocalists to assist with the performance, it gives them free rein to show off their full capacity as a vocalist. It even allows them to have a conversation with their audience during the live show. For the contestants on 'Rising Stars', it also helps to boost their confidence as they realise that they're not alone on the stage, because we're supporting them in more than one way, so even if they slip up they knew we've got their back."

'Digicel Rising Stars' is a local talent show aimed at unearthing Jamaica's finest musical artistes. The show was first aired on Television Jamaica in June 2004 and has been renewed annually for the last 12 years.

Now a Jamaican family favourite, the show boasts and impressive alumni which has gone on to have successful local and international careers in the music industry, including Chris Martin (2005), Romain Virgo (2007), Cameal Davis (2008), Shuga (2009) and saxophonist Verlando Small (2013)