Davina Henry, Staff Reporter
For many, the the Digicel Rising Stars platform offers them a once in a lifetime opportunity to get their big break in the music industry.
After recently concluding its 10th season, with 10 winners under its belt, many of the former contestants, especially the females, are still finding it difficult to make an impact in the music industry.
With Romain Virgo, Christopher Martin and Laden being the only names to make it mainstream, the question remains, what has happened to past female contestants?
According to Nickeisha Barnes, who walked away as runner-up in the 2006 staging, it is hard for women in general to get that big break.
"That is something that is a part of the industry. Especially since we are coming from a talent show, we have to fight a little harder, and that is because of how the industry is structured, with men being the dominant ones," she told The Gleaner.
She added that though she had achieved success coming from the talent show, it gets harder, to transform into a performing artiste in the eyes of some Jamaicans who only identify them with the show.
"As women we need to be united. We as women tend to hold each other back, so it's much easier for the men to group up against us. We are equally as talented as the males, but we are held back because of disunity. Some females think that only one of us should be at the forefront. If so many men can be there, why is there a fight for one woman to be at the front," she reasoned.
The competition's 2007 runner up, Jodian Pantry also echoed Barnes' sentiments.
"It's definitely harder because the industry is male dominated. Plus, once you are really nice, some men will feel like you should try things their way in order to 'buss big'," she said.
She continued, "Majority of the times their way is not to our liking and we shouldn't be partaking in it. I want to use my talent to make my own mark. Some females who want to be entertainers, succumb to some of these offers. It's all about hard work, respect and humbleness," she told The Gleaner.
And while she has been told that she would be better suited for the international market and pursue a career there, Pantry is still finding it difficult to get her foot in the door.
"Currently I'm working as a trainee at a hotel and I'm hoping that I will get the job, but truthfully, I don't necessarily want to be here, but I have to try other things to put food on my table."
While Pantry is still hoping to achieve her dream, she told The Gleaner that there are solutions to the problem.
When questioned as to whether she believes the talent show could do more for the contestants, Pantry said it was complicated.
"I don't want to seem greedy because Rising Stars already provided the platform for us to make it into the industry. What they offer is the biggest thing, I doubt that I would have got where I am without them. So in that regard, I don't think they could do anymore. But, on the other hand, they can do more in terms of shows. They do shows across Jamaica and we are not on them," Pantry said.
She continued, "Even recently when they did the 10th episode, they used Kevin Downswell etc., on the shows when they could have used us. It should have been more about us. They need to continue to put us at the forefront."
Chantel 'Tash' Lamont, who walked away as the 2011 winner says she is currently working on her new album with Cash Flow Records, and currently has five songs out. However, she has not been getting much airplay for her songs.
"Producers should take time out and listen to the females. We are talented but we need to be respected. One of the solutions to help us go further in the industry is to probably have a studio where females alone can go there to voice. We often get the run around from the other producers so maybe if we have one main place for females to voice then it would be better," Tash said.
Derrick 'Koffy' Coffie, who was a judge on season nine, said it's not just the female contestants from the talent show who find it hard to make it mainstream.
"They've had 10 seasons and out of that, only two have really become superstars. It just so happened that those two were males. Those two are more driven, I know for a fact that they put in the work so they got more results," he told The Gleaner.
He added that the show could do more, but that it needed financing.
"To get the contestants to international stardom takes financing and a team. Maybe they need to think beyond the show to a Rising Stars booking agency to give these young artistes the platform they need to go further," Coffie said.