Columns

The two biggest lessons from Tessanne Chin winning The Voice

INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE

DAVID MULLINGS

Sunday, December 22, 2013    

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JAMAICANS everywhere are on cloud nine and we now have some more people proclaiming Jamaican heritage for sure. That's what happens when we shine on the international stage. As my close friend Cezar said, we don't like silver or bronze, it's black, green and GOLD!

There are many lessons to be drawn from Tessanne Chin's accomplishment of winning The Voice, including that of pursuing your dreams and the need for perseverance. However, I believe that there are two lessons that are the most important takeaways for Jamaicans.

First, some are complaining about the lack of support Tessanne got on radio in Jamaica before The Voice. Her talent has been obvious for years and she released great songs. Before decrying radio disc jockeys and payola (the paying for airplay) we the long-time Tessanne fans must first blame ourselves.

Radio plays what it's told to play and what is hot on the streets. Did we call in religiously to request Hideaway, Loving You or Messenger? Did we mobilise friends to convert them into fans and get them to call in? Did we request the song when we went to parties?

In short, did we show radio that there was a great demand for her music? The dancehall songs that are popular have rabid fans who are calling in and texting their requests to disc jockeys. The blame actually lies squarely with us, and that is the first lesson.

Tessanne had to follow Bob Marley, Sean Paul and countless Jamaican acts who realised that in order to get real support at home without a large marketing budget they would have to 'buss' abroad in order to 'buss' a yaad. Maybe that will finally change, but I have very little hope.

One of my all-time favourite artistes is Tanya Stephens, without question one of the best lyricists in the world, male or female. She has yet to get her just due internationally, but we can only blame ourselves for not activating the machinery to break her or countless other talented acts into the international mainstream.

Shaggy says you must "make music with a visa", referring to music that can go international. Even when that is done we still need to mobilise the support.

The second lesson is with regard to the diaspora. Deika Morrison reached out to Marlon Hill, former Diaspora Advisory Board member for the Southeast USA. She wanted to mobilise the diaspora to vote for Tessanne and organise Twitter watch parties. He reached out to me about my wife, Kathryn, doing the graphics that would help organise them.

This snowballed, and countless people got involved, eventually leading to the massive support we witnessed. This is fundamental proof that the Jamaican diaspora can be organised around big goals once there is trust, transparency and buy-in.

In all my years on the Advisory Board I kept asking why wasn't there more investment and donations. The answer was always the same: We don't know who to trust and we know it's not the Government. What are we giving money to? No one has articulated a vision that we have bought into.

This is still the reality today. Tessanne has shown that the diaspora is willing to step up when the right factors are presented. I look forward to a great 2014 where we finally tap the power of Jamaicans abroad and help Jamaica to realise its rightful place in the world.

David Mullings is the chairman and CEO of Keystone Augusta, a private investment firm and was the first Future Leaders representative for the USA on the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board. He can be found at Facebook.com/davidpmullings and Twitter.com/davidmullings

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