THE year was 2007, and a shy teenaged singer Romain Virgo decided to audition for the popular television talent series Digicel Rising Stars. Virgo finished first place, with Jodian Pantry and Inga Stewart second and third, respectively.
“Wow, 15 years since I won 'Rising Stars' ! When persons in their late teens or early 20s tell me that they used to watch me on Rising Stars when they were kids, it makes me feel old,” Virgo told Jamaica Observer at Tads Records studio in Kingston recently.
He continued, “It has been a beautiful journey and the support of the people is what has kept me going. I would call it love. There's obviously growth over the 15 years, and personally, I think I have grown in the music and in so many different ways.”
Since winning Digicel Rising Stars Virgo has emerged to become one of the biggest names in lovers' rock music. Covers of Michael Bolton's Soul Provider and Sam Smith's Stay with Me, and his original hitters Wanna Go Home (Rain is Falling), Love Doctor, Taking You Home, Live Me Life, and Fade Away (featuring Agent Sasco) have kept Virgo on the lips of fans locally and overseas.
To date, he has released three full-length studio albums. His self-titled set was released in 2010; 2012 was the year for The System (number six on Billboard Reggae Albums chart); and the latest was 2018's Lovesick which topped the Billboard chart. His 2015 EP Lifted stalled at number seven on the chart.
“There's nothing that I would change about the journey, however, my advice to up-and-coming artistes in the business is to love what you do. There's so much that comes with the music, including making a living for yourself, and helping yourself and your family. Personally, I just want to be in the studio recording and creating because I feel good doing that,” said Virgo.
Virgo is currently making significant strides on radio and the charts with Good Woman. Last week it moved from 17 to 19 on the South Florida Reggae chart, and from 15 to 13 on the New York Reggae chart.
Its accompanying video has racked up more than 1.5 million views in just four weeks. Virgo said this is a first in his career.
“ Good Woman is the song everybody is talking about and its my first video to reach over a million views in a month,” he said.
Good Woman was inspired by his wife, Elizabeth, mother to his twin daughters.
“We got the rhythm from DJ Densen and MLND from Germany. It's just having a good rhythm that you love and enjoy listening to. The song was inspired by my wife, Liz. One morning I was listening to the rhythm and I just couldn't help myself because the melodies and lyrics were coming. At about 4:30 in the morning Liz was leaving out for work and she asked if I wanted some porridge. She made me oats porridge and I said 'Wow, this is a good woman to cut her time to make me some porridge,' — so that's where the inspiration came from,” Virgo explained.
Asked how being a husband and father has impacted his music Virgo said, “Being a husband and father comes with a lot of responsibilities so every move or step that I make comes with responsibility, and now I have to think about my wife and my children. Whatever I'm putting in the music must reflect me and the person and the family I grew up in, and the people who've been there to guide me. I believe in the power of the tongue, what you say and how it can come around and affect you.”
Virgo is hoping to release a major musical project this year.
“I feel like a big project is coming this year and it's going to be with VP Records. I'm not sure when, but me and Niko [producer and manager Niko Browne] have been in the studio working during the pandemic. But, a big project is definitely coming.”
Virgo, who is in his early 30s, is originally from Stepney in St Ann. He attended Aabuthnott Gallimore High School where he sang on the school choir that participated in the television singing competition, All Together Sing, in 2006.