Despite their raw talent, no Digicel Rising Stars contestant can achieve their true star potential without some assistance.
The competition, therefore, seeks to not only introduce new talent to Jamaica, but also to help nurture and develop their skills, ultimately preparing them for a future in the music industry.
Digicel Rising Stars would not be as successful without musical director Peter Ashbourne, and vocal coach, Michael Harris. This team works tirelessly each week, preparing the contestants for their live-show performance.
Ashbourne describes himself as a "veteran", since he has been with the team since the very first Digicel Rising Stars competition. However, he admits that the work does not get easier each year, noting that every set of contestants has their own level of challenges. "It's a job, and it's completely different from what you see on television. What the team does is hard work, but in the end it's fulfilling," the director added.
Ashbourne, who has been a musical leader since leaving high school, is charged with the task of preparing all accompaniments for the contestants in his capacity as musical director. "We make it look easy, but so much work goes into making the track for them to perform to (one track takes about six hours to be made). If they perform with a live band, I am the unseen band leader. I have a say in the final presentation, in the final musical output," he stated.
Meanwhile, Harris, who has been working with the competition for eight years, is responsible for the vocal coaching of the contestants.
"Depending on the level of the person you're coaching, there are different things that a vocal coach would do. For beginners, like the Rising Stars contestants, it is about building technique - breathing, enunciation, dynamics and musicality, the basics. You have to coach them on how to produce a certain sound in a certain way," he noted.
Each year, the vocal coach and musical director appreciate seeing the contestants mature, and both agree that one of the most memorable years was 2008 - the year of the first female winner, Camille, and runners-up, Kahlil. "There were many memorable moments with Kahlil and Camille. They were always willing to listen, work hard, and were always well prepared for rehearsals," said Harris. Ashbourne added that "the year with Camille and Kahlil, that was a great bunch. The year with Noddy Virtue and Christopher Martin was also a good year."
Ashbourne has high praises for Digicel Rising Stars, which he described as "a very good vehicle for people who are interested in being performing artistes. It's very good marketing and public relations. It gets them out in the public eye and they cannot pay for what they get in Digicel Rising Stars".