EDITORIAL - Tessanne and the diaspora

Published: Tuesday | December 17, 2013 Comments 0

Anyone who ever heard Tessanne Chin didn't need her participation in NBC's 'Voice' to vindicate her prodigious talent.

Her broad vocal range, and the ease with which she traverses the scales of a big, evocative voice that she manipulates with great discipline are all too apparent. Then there is that shy simplicity, on stage and in her singing that adds to her authenticity and not-so-obvious charisma.

In a sense, therefore, while we fervently hope that she wins the competition, there can be no let-down whatever happens.

That having been said, by competing in one of America's top singing competitions and having reached the final, Ms Chin has showcased her talent not only to the entertainment industry's richest market, but to a global audience.

That she has reached this far, and may well win the competition, talent notwithstanding, is no easy accomplishment. For this is a competition where the performer's fate is determined not only by skilled, professional judges who are required to manage their biases.

Outcomes in the hands of the public

In the last stretch, up to last night's final, the outcomes have, and will be, in the hands of the public, who vote either by telephone or by downloading the songs performed by the contestants. With voting confined to the United States (US) and with Tessanne Chin having proudly celebrated her Jamaican heritage, it is reasonable to assume that she transcends nationalist considerations.

But there is something in Tessanne Chin's 'Voice' phenomenon that is nearly as profound as her talent, the joy she has brought to music lovers, and the pride she has instilled in Jamaicans everywhere. It is the possibility for the mobilisation of the Jamaican diaspora to the benefit of the country.

For despite her broad appeal, Ms Chin's advance in the various rounds of the competition has been facilitated, in no small measure, by the Jamaican diaspora in the US.

Indeed, across the US, wherever Jamaicans live, '#teamtessanne' groups have held parties, tweeted and posted about her performances, and, very important, voted and encouraged others to vote for her. At home, we have been glued to our television sets for her performances and the media have diligently followed her progress.

Diaspora support

Such motivation in the diaspora for the cause of Jamaica is usually apparent only during natural disasters, some major or unique national event, or when there is mobilisation of sections of Jamaican communities abroad by political parties in support of usually narrow interests.

The point is that the Jamaican diaspora is an underutilised resource for the national good, especially in putting pressure on the governments of host countries to shape policies in favour of Jamaica. This applies not only to the US.

Take, for instance, the case of the United Kingdom (UK) government's application of an air travel tax that is detrimental to a country like Jamaica and about which it has been unyielding. Recent surveys have shown that given the concentration of constituency votes, Britain's black population could determine the outcome of that country's next general election.

Jamaicans are influential members of this group and are, therefore, in a position to juxtapose the potential black vote in the next general election and diaspora-related issues they want the UK government and the Opposition to pursue. Tessanne Chin might even put it in a song.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.

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