The phenomena of Rising Stars and Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall have created a level of enthusiasm and an anticipation rarely seen in the history of television talent shows in Jamaica. Many do not know who the brainchild of these two massively popular shows is and even more interestingly, that he is not a native Jamaican.

Born in Dublin Ireland, Mark Kenny has been an ardent fan of Jamaican music and culture since the 1970s. The professionally trained pianist became a convert to reggae after listening to the group ‘Culture‘ who are credited with influencing the development of Punk Rock music in the 1970s. Kenny has developed a sophisticated appreciation of Jamaica’s music and culture which is manifested in his work with Digicel Rising Stars and Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall.

Kenny began his television career in 1990 as a producer with Animedia, one of Ireland’s largest animation companies at the time. He excelled and went on to produce one of Ireland’s most popular talent shows: You’re a Star. It was after observing his work on the You’re a Star talent competition that in 2004, Digicel and Newcom solicited his help in bringing true Jamaican talent to the masses. This collaboration gave birth to the Rising Stars competition.

After four immensely successful seasons and becoming the most popular show on television, Kenny decided to take Jamaican television to another level and in 2007 launched Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall.

Executive producer, Mark Kenny explains: “I noticed that a lot of Deejays would audition for Digicel Rising Stars and not make it into the finals because the format does not cater to dancehall. We thought it would be a good idea to have a show that is dedicated to dancehall 100%. I also noticed that female driven dancehall and male driven dancehall is different, so it would be interesting to have a king and queen rather than both sexes competing against each other.”

Mark Kenny has a keen eye for talent and over 18 years of experience in knowing what people like to see on their television. Both Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall and Digicel Rising Stars have given numerous Jamaicans, from all walks of life and all corners of the island, the opportunity to showcase their talent and become recognised Jamaican artistes.

Kenny explains how Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall is achieving its mandate to ‘buss‘ new talent: “Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall has shown that there is strong dancehall talent in Jamaica that has not had a platform for exposure. Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall is now that platform. To see the performances on stage, to see the set and the overall production is a dream achieved. Since we began airing on TVJ we have grown from strength to strength and there is enough talent out there for Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall to go on perpetually.”

After bringing two very popular shows to Jamaican television, Mark Kenny has big plans for the future. He plans to continue the success of Digicel Rising Stars while making the second season of Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall, to be aired in November 2008, bigger and better. He also plans to bring other television shows to Jamaican television while at the same time exposing Jamaican culture and talent to the world.

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  1. This is an awesome article, I?ll be adding you to my list.


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