It's Dalton!

Jamaican wins X Factor UK 2018 title

Observer senior reporter

Monday, December 03, 2018

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I just won the X Factor !”

Those were the first words which Jamaican Dalton Harris managed to utter yesterday as he tried to recover from the announcement that he had just been declared winner of the popular British televised talent show.

His knees buckled as the show's host Dermott O'Leary read his name ahead of a hail of confetti, lights and fanfare. Fellow contestants Scarlett Lee and Anthony Russell were named first and second runners up, respectively.

The 24-year-old Jamaican emerged victor over thousands who submitted entries and auditions; survived the intensity of the six-chair challenge, the drama of their coaches homes, and the pressure of the seven live shows and performances.

There was personal turmoil involving utterances by his mother and negative public comments regarding a photograph which surfaced showing him sitting in the lap of fellow X Factor contestant Brendan Murray.

But none of the above seemed to affect the young man as he wowed audiences and judges alike with each performance throughout the multi-stage competition, and the final night was no different. His performance of the single Power of Love with past X Factor winner James Arthur was a musical treat.

But even before the envelope was opened and Harris named winner, three of the show's musical guests were already proclaiming him so. Pop star Ellie Goulding referred to him as “the perfect contestant”, noting that his voice and story had the makings of a great artiste. Music legend Nile Rodgers, who sat in as a judge and mentor for two weeks of the competition, said: “Dalton's voice is absolutely flawless and his consistencey is something almost impossible to achieve.” Musician Gary Barlow of the group Take That also declared the Jamaican the winner.

Harris is set to be rewarded with a recording contract with Syco Records — Simon Cowell's label owned by Sony. The actual dollar value of the contract is still unknown, but reports indicate that it could be in the region of 1 million.

Harris first became known in Jamaica when, at age 16, he won the 2010 season of the local talent contest Digicel Rising Stars. Singer Nadine Sutherland, music industry insider Clyde McKenzie, and entertainment journalist Anthony Miller had front row seats to the beginning of his journey as judges of the competition.

For Sutherland, Harris's X Factor victory is a story which has meaning on many different levels.

“My throat is hurting,” she told the Jamaica Observer last night. “I screamed so much for this young man. Just to see his growth and development over the years is phenomenal. We were right there when he auditioned and saw him right through to the finals. It is so great seeing him now on this much bigger stage, clearly putting into practice some of what he learned on Rising Stars.”

“I must also credit Donovan Germain, who has clearly mentored and managed Dalton by showing support and love and how to bounce back from adversity. This is a lesson in how to be shaken but steadfast; a testament to talent competitions opening doors and how to stick to the course, not to mention his preparation and delivery, not just in how he sang, but how he spoke. I am so proud of him,” Sutherland added.

For McKenzie, Harris's growth as an artiste is impressive.

“While his brilliance was evident eight years ago, he has grown tremendously. His confidence, the control of his voice... he was in tip-top shape for every performance. It shows that he is managing himself very well. His song selections were also of note. Whoever was working with him chose music that showed off his talent and instrument extremely well. Each song gave him an opportunity to show off his vocal dexterity, which is definitely part of the appeal.”

This X Factor win, McKenzie noted, also showcased the deep talent pool which exists here in Jamaica.

“We in Jamaica got significant mileage out of this. Jamaica has given the world reggae, but we can also give you a Dalton Harris, a Tessanne Chin, or a musician like Ernie Ranglin... We are not just the land of reggae, but the land of music, and given Dalton's musical sensibilities, I see him going the way of a pop artiste. He has a soulfulness about him and he is able to convey emotions with his voice and put himself into a song, and that is what makes him a good performer,” said McKenzie.

Miller, known for his acerbic comments during competition, felt Harris did not have to fake the emotional anguish throughout the X Factor performances.

“I am really pleased for someone who's apparently triumphed over incredible odds.

“The songs he sang had an undercurrent of sadness, which worked for him.

“As for Rising Stars, Dalton's success is proof positive that judges should be able to choose the songs contestants sing. More challenging material reveals their mettle,” Miller said last night.

Minister of Culture and Entertainment Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who attended the finals in London, congratulated Harris on his “massive X Factor win”. She also praised the judges “who have decided that this Jamaican talent could rise to the top”.

“Harris's victory is testament to the quality of the talent that we have been pushing out of Jamaica. There is no question about how we feel about him as a Jamaican artiste. We are thankful and grateful to his manager, Donovan Germain, for his stewardship and [he] impressed at Dalton's ability to hold his composure in the heat of competition and deliver impeccable and flawless performances through the entire contest. Overall, Jamaica came out on top,” Minister Grange said.

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