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From the Judge's Table: Dalton's Rising Stars panel sing praises

Published:Wednesday | November 21, 2018 | 6:14 PMKimberley Small

The Jamaican music industry has long reaped the benefits of talent searches. For instance, it was the Tastee Talent Contest that first exposed the talent and showmanship of entertainers such as Yellowman, Beenie Man, Papa San and Mr Vegas. Though that contest is no longer staged, the practise carries on through programmes like Digicel Rising Stars and Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall. More expansively, Jamaicans have found reason to celebrate international talent searches, when they feature one of our own. Tessanne Chin charmed the United States during her winning appearance on NBC's The Voice. Now, it's Dalton Harris making waves on the X Factor UK. Harris, who is now a semi-finalist on the show, has garnered the support of an international audience, his fellow countrymen, and his former Digicel Rising Stars judges. "I’m ecstatic! I'm watching along with everybody. I think all Jamaicans feel a sense of investment," Nadine Sutherland told The Gleaner from New York. Comparing her experiences, as one of his former judges on Digicel Rising Stars, and now as a spectator of his efforts in the international competition, Sutherland said that she sees a more worldly, confident performer. "As part of that panel, there's a deeper sense of investment for me. I remember a gangly, awkward looking kid blowing us away," she recalled. She said that Digicel Rising Stars has produced some formidable talents, as did the Tastee Talent Contest back in the day. "I'm the first winner of the Tastee Talent Contest, and I haven't done too badly with my life. Look at Romain Virgo, Christopher Martin, Shuga is doing her thing. We cannot discount the relevance Rising Stars brings forth," Sutherland said. Rising Stars vs X Factor UK Like many others, Anthony Miller has his fingers crossed for the young singer's success. However, Miller said there should be no comparison between Harris' international showing and his local success. He said: "This person was a teenager back then. Now, he found a completely different platform. We're seeing what he's capable of; it's stunning. Obviously he can sing. His vocal range is amazing. He speaks clearly. They like his emotional delivery and he has an interesting story. He's a good package, tailor-made for TV." Recalling Harris' recent 'wow' performances including of classic UK hits like David Bowie's Life on Mars, Radiohead's Creep, and Elton John's Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Miller believes the song choices are clever because they appeal to the UK audience. "He's being asked to perform songs he didn't know much about. It's a challenge that sets up interesting tension. I think it stretched him. They are cleverly selected songs that bring out the very best in him," he said. Miller continued: "It's a pity no one (locally) saw the potential, and he languished. Producers out here are going to say, 'damn, I should have been playing closer attention.' It makes you wonder why. Do we have to leave to realise potential? "