Tessanne Chin: What Mr Adam Levine knows that Jamaicans don't

Thursday, December 19, 2013    

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No one can deny us this extraordinary moment of national self-satisfaction and even back-patting after Ms Tessanne Chin's awesome coronation on NBC's The Voice on Monday night in Los Angeles.

Yet, while we savour this historic victory, if it is to mean anything more than our well known predilection for slipping right back into complacency after achieving world-beating performances, then it must also mean a call to serious reflection.

We must, for example, recognise our profound debt of gratitude to the people of the United States of America for the opportunity they provided to Tessanne. Every sensible Jamaican will acknowledge that if Americans had held steadfast to a spirit of parochialism and voted overwhelmingly for one of their own, Tessanne would not have won.

Then we must 'big up' in no uncertain way Mr Adam Levine, her coach, who saw something in Tessanne that we fear Jamaicans had missed for many years, much to our chagrin. Mr Levine went out on a limb Monday night to say: "In my heart, I know you have won" after Tessanne's mind-bending performance of Whitney Houston's classic, I have nothing. It was a courageous move on his part, because he still had another competitor, in Mr Will Champlin, who was to perform next.

But it is clear to us that Mr Levine has discovered what Jamaicans apparently did not. For years Tessanne was "boxing about", in a manner of speaking, with a super talent that was getting her nowhere. Jamaica sat on her talent until, thank God for him too, Mr Shaggy Burrell found the inspiration to introduce her to The Voice. Unlike Mr Levine, we did not believe in our heart that Tessanne was a winner over all those years.

We share the view of Mr Kingsley Cooper, the head of the Entertainment Advisory Board, who said elsewhere in today's edition, and we commend it to readers, that: "There are a number of Tessanne Chins in Jamaica, many just needing a chance to shine. We have to help provide these opportunities and to create an environment in which our people flourish — both to their individual benefit as well as ours, as a people and country. Once again congratulations to Tessanne and also to Shaggy who, it is reported, helped to facilitate her Voice audition. Otherwise, this wonderful Jamaican triumph might never have occurred."

We may also need to consider this other Jamaican phenomenon, which is that too often we have to wait until our most talented compatriots are recognised overseas before we recognise them locally. Do we need to mention Mr Bob Marley or any of the many others? When will our prophets have honour in their own country?

Moreover, we must ask ourselves, where is that latent energy in us that comes out so rarely to galvanise us in the most stupendous way, as demonstrated in the support of Jamaicans from every corner of the world for Tessanne. We last saw this outpouring of national pride during the 2012 Olympics which were lit up by our team led by Mr Usain Bolt and Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Is there no way of bringing that out much more often to propel our country forward? Is it not possible, for example, to put this kind of energy behind the Vision 2030 objectives that are meant to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, play, and do business?





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