Go away, Dalton!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

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Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to 2018 UK X Factor winner Dalton Harris:

With a second and more prestigious competition title under his belt, Dalton is presently Jamaica's hot topic. Once again, the whole island is ecstatic as another one of us has fascinated the world.

At the same time, it would be foolish to rely on Jamaica as your primary market, simply because we don't want you here.

Jamaica, home to about six musical genres, has only made room for two, reggae and dancehall. The overwhelming talent that is yours is more of a spectacle than a serious contender on this island. Your cathedral ballads would gasp for air out of the Jamaican river of gospel music. The only way to breathe the air of music on this Rock is to exhale the rhythms of reggae or dancehall. Any reluctance to do so will only render your career a discarded fish on the banks of potential.

While Jamaica has typically voted for a singing Rising Stars champion, these singers rarely ever make it to stardom thereafter. Those who have, have had to box themselves in as singjays, their entire range suffocated. For years Tessanne Chin had been largely overlooked, even though none would deny her talent. The Voice win came and warmed her career like a microwave, but then microwaved food cools quickly. After a short fit of excitement, only a banking endorsement has legitimised her presence. Singers such as Cherine Anderson, Christopher Martin, Sugar, even you, have never been described as the “hottes' ting a road”.

Nothing is wrong with reggae and dancehall, but there is no space for anything else. Richie Stephens' ska revival is completely ignored by radio. Radio DJs will tell you they have to play what the people want, even though they are the ones who feed the people. If singers are played on the airwaves more often than not they are not born here.

Here's the thing, Dalton, Jamaica is happy for you, that's for sure, but there are some relationships that are better when there is distance.

Go away and rule the world, Dalton, we will sing along on your Vevo channel. If you return you'll be a has-been by January.

All the best, Dalton. Keep your distance.

Dave Richards


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