Dalton's roadmap to X Factor final

Sunday, December 02, 2018

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Jamaican singer Dalton Harris carved out a place for himself yesterday when he made it to the finals of the televised talent showcase X Factor UK. The 24-year-old, who hails from Clarendon, first became a household name eight years ago when he snagged the local Digicel Rising Stars title. His journey to the finals has been one highlighted by consistently strong performances, but has not been without its share of controversy. The Jamaica Observer takes a look at some of these moments.

September 15, - Audition show airs

Harris successfully made it past the audition rounds with an emotional performance of Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, originally recorded by Elton John.

His performance was greeted by a standing ovation for the audience and Harris broke down and had to be consoled by X Factor judges singer/songwriter Louis Tomlinson and actress Ayda Williams. After drying his tears Harris received four big yeses from the judging panel and progressed to the next round of competition.

September 29 - Six-chair challenge

Harris blew the judges away again for the second time during the six-chair challenge. He guaranteed himself a spot in the next round with a performance of Purple Rain by Prince. The Jamaican singer expressed his contentment on social media recently. “Grateful and happy to announce that I have made it to the next round of The X Factor. Let the battle begin, peace and love,” he said in an Instagram post.

October 13 - Judges House

With his coach Louis Tomlinson, Harris and the five other hopefuls were flown to the chic island of Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Spain for the Judges House segment of the show. Here he impressed with his rendition of Beyonce's Listen. At the end of the episode the Boys Team was reduced to four and he was securely on his way to the live performances.

October 14- Scammers

The Jamaican had to come out against individuals soliciting votes on his behalf despite the fact that voting had not yet started.

He took to social media to point out the scam.

“Greetings people. There is a link going around saying to vote for Dalton Harris in the X Factor; it is fake. It has nothing to do with me or the show. Voting hasn't even started for anything in the show at all, so please be careful. This link is not true, it's a lie... Respect,” he stated in a video.

October 20- First live show

Firmly in the top 16, Harris put is best foot forward for the first live performance.

He chose David Bowie Life on Mars and truly put his impressive vocals, heart and emotion into a 90-second performance which left the audience touched, and was enough to take him into the top 14 performers. Following his rendition of the Bowie tune, three of the four judges instantly rose to their feet, giving the youngster an ovation.

Judge Robbie Williams was the first to speak.

“I feel like you are an established act coming on to the X Factor to promote your own album. Your voice is absolutely incredible. I love you. Own it. You are a beautiful person with a beautiful voice. Congrats, I am a fan.”

October 25 - Support from home

Two of the past winners of Digicel Rising Stars threw their support behind alum Dalton Harris, who is now a contestant in a similar competition X Factor UK.

Romain Virgo, the 2007 winner, and Short Boss, who took home the title 10 years later in 2017, both had nothing but the best wishes for Harris.

“It's a beautiful move. Everybody have different dreams and goals. It is such a joy to see him enjoying the experience and progressing with each week,” Virgo told the Observer.

For Short Boss, it was much of the same love and support.

“ He is doing so well. I just want to wish him all the best and hope that he comes out on top... I want him to come out on top.”

October 27 - I Have Nothing

For the second live performance Harris delivered a blistering rendition of Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing. This was not only enough to keep him in competition, it also put him on the iTunes Top 100 UK charts. His studio recording of the song, immediately shot onto the popular downloads chart following his performance and peaked at number 27, the highest of any of his fellow X Factor contestants.

Judge Ayda Field also had nothing but the best words for Harris.

“I don't know why you chose I Have Nothing, because you have everything. You are a star. You take on Whitney and you leave nothing behind. Dalton you are mega,” she said.

October 29 - More Rising Stars support

Another set of Digicel Rising Stars winners threw their support behind Harris. Vocal trio One Third were nothing short of ecstatic as they heaped commendations on Harris, who won the local competition in 2010, four years after their win in 2006.

“I want him to win. I want him fi win, mi jus' want him win,” said group member Miguel Walters.

“It's just great to see someone from the competition holding up the Jamaican flag on the international stage. Dalton has always been a wicked vocalist. When him done with X Factor people will be coming to Jamaica just to see him perform,” Al Johnson remarked.

November 2- Bookies got it

Bookmakers in the UK placed Harris, as the odds-on favourite to take the title during the finals.

Media reports are quoting a spokesperson for the bookmaking firm Coral putting the Jamaica as the likely winner.

“... Dalton continues as the firm favourite for victory. It's one-way traffic in terms of our betting on who will win X Factor this year, and after a steady start Dalton is now absolutely flying. Our punters are absolutely backing him without any doubts in their minds, and it looks like he's got just what it takes to go all the way,” Coral's Harry Aitkenhead was quoted as saying.

November 3 - Top 10

The Halloween theme saw Harris going for white hair and matching contact lenses as he delivered another masterful showing. This time it was Radiohead's Creep and he earned another standing ovation. His studio recording of the song shot up iTunes Top 100 charts peaking at number 34. It was more than enough to earn his top 10 berth.

His team coach and mentor Louis Tomlinson was complimentary.

“I've felt the same every week I've sat here — just super, super proud of you. Your ability as a vocalist is in its own league as far I'm concerned. You sounded absolutely beautiful. The dynamic within the performance was absolutely beautiful. Well done mate, well done,” Tomlinson noted.

November 8 - Tessanne supports

Singer Tessanne Chin had nothing but encouragement for Harris. The winner of The Voice told the Observer that she is nothing short of proud of the performances and progress he was making on X Factor.

“ What inspires me more is that he is making each song his own and you really cannot ask anything more of him. This is his journey. What I will tell him is to enjoy every single moment and do everything along the way which makes [him] happy. I am so proud of his interpretation of the songs and the way he makes each performance look so easy. I can't help but fill up with pride,” said Chin.

November 10 - Simon's prediction

For his fourth live performance. Harris chose California Dreamin' and once he was done all four judges took to their feet to applaud.

The show's co creator and lead judge Simon Cowell was prophetic.

“Every time you come on its like a blast. I have a feeling we are gonna be seeing you in about three weeks time at the finals,” Cowell told Harris amidst wild cheers from the studio audience.

Renowned record producer Niles Rodgers, who is sitting in for regular judge Robbie Williams, was also taken by the performance of the 24-year-old Jamaican.

“I first saw you in Ibiza and you blew me away then. You are at the next level man. Everytime you perform you are unbelievable bro.”

Again Harris secured a spot in the next round.

November 17 - Listen

Harris threw down the gauntlet in his bid to be in semifinal by delivering another of his powerhouse performances to wow judges and studio audience alike. This time he reprised Listen accompanied by a 30-piece orchestra.

So loud were the cheers and chants following the performance that the judge could hardly get a word in edgewise to comment on what Harris had just done on the stage. Despite several attempts, all lone female Ayda Williams could say is: “ Dalton... I'll see you in the finals!”

Co-creator of the show and lead judge Simon Cowell paid Harris the ultimate compliment.

“Yeah, that was just the best performance we have had on X Factor so far,” he declared, which left Harris sobbing.

Tomlinson also had Harris for the finals.

“Dalton, I would be so shocked if you weren't in the finals. You are absolutely incredible and I'm so, so proud every single week you perform. You are brilliant and let me tell you forget about not having confidence because you are incredible, mate.”

November 18 - semi-final spot

Twenty-four hours after wowing judges and audience Harris could breathe a sigh of relief he was in the semi-final of X Factor UK.

His consistent and exceptional performances have made him a favourite to take the title and continue to earn him a new legion of fans. Music legend Nile Rodgers, who sat in a guest judge for series judge and mentor Robbie Williams, named Harris as his pick for this season's title.

“I really love Dalton,” he responded.

Guest performer on the show, British pop act Cheryl, also named the 24-year-old Jamaican singer as her choice.

As part of the competition top eight, Harris will have the opportunity to participate in the X Factor Live Tour across the United Kingdom in early 2019.

November 22 - Photo backlash

Harris was forced to responded to the firestorm of criticism which has been swirling on social media following the release of a photograph which saw him sitting on the leg of fellow X Factor competitor Brendan Murray.

“I will not respond with anger or frustration. Your attitude reflects your mind, do not project your issues on me. I am a grown man. Have no issue or confusion where my sexuality and masculinity is concerned. Woke up to the Internet this morning and saw something online. I think if you are so uncomfortable with your sexuality that you feel that two dudes hugging is gay, then so be it. Mi good. At the end of the day I'm here living out mi dream, so is this dude (Murray). At the end of the day we're here living our lives and I've got nothing to prove. It's funny to me that mi own country dat mi fight for every single day is showing our @#*+ like this in a horrible way and it isn't a good representation because we are not dumb people. Mi is a single man not sleeping with a man but peace and love any ways. Not an explanation. Just saying mind yuh business... Peace and love.”

November 24 - Feeling Good

The Clarendon native seemed to have shaken off the firestorm of criticism which swirled around him following the release of the infamous photograph. Harris delivered a powerful rendition of the talent show favourite Feeling Good, putting his own spin on the classic, with his signature runs and clean falsetto which only sent the cheers and chanting louder inside the London venue.

Harris's mentor Louis Tomlinson commented on the pressure brought to bear on his charge during the competition.

“Honestly lad, I am so, so proud of you every week. You've been through a lot on this competition personally, different things and I think you have come out fighting every week. You've got better and better and better. You are a star and you deserve to be in the final and you can win this,” Tomlinson remarked.

November 25 - Into the finals

Harris was visibly relieved when his name was the first to be announced as a finalist.

“It's a dream come true and nothing stops you but yourself... I'm so grateful for the encouragement that you guys have given me, and I'm here,” he screamed during an interview with the show's host Dermott O'Leary. For that show he gave a sombre performance of Clown.

Back at home in Jamaica, the feeling was just as palpable for Harris's mentor, record producer Donovan Germain.

“I had no doubt that he could do it. We talk everyday, and I know how much he is driven, so I had no doubt from the beginning that he would put in the work in order to get out of this competition what he wants for himself. So, seeing him make it to the finals was just a fulfilment of what I know he set out to do,” Germain told the Observer.

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