CAN A FEMALE EVER WIN DIGICEL RISING STARS? There’s a distinct possibility that a female will snatch the top position and create history in Jamaica

Jamaica’s Digicel Rising Stars talent competition has been the scene of much change this year. With a new venue, new host and in last Sunday’s (August 31) show a new segment: Gospel, which brought with it for the first time a guest performer. From all angles, Digicel Rising Stars 2008 is distinguishing itself from the previous seasons including the fact that, for the first time, 4 of the top 6 are female (67%).

While it’s too early to be corralling the masses into the final hurrah, the composition of the top six remaining has many saying there is the distinct possibility that a female will snatch the top position and create history in the talent contest that began in 2004.

“I think it is about time that a woman wins the competition,” acclaimed a patron after Lashana’s performance of Beyonce’s Listen on the R&B night. “Too much man a win this thing now, a time for a woman win the competition,” she said before erupting in laughter listening to Anthony ‘Killer‘ Miller’s comment.

As Cameal celebrated her birthday, that said night (August 10th) with Dangerously in Love, another Beyonce hit, a male patron could be heard saying: “A she me a support.” Similar sentiments were heard for SLR who delivered En Vogue’s Hold On: Them little girls good man, you hear them harmony?” At the Gleaner’s Olympics Party on August 23rd, patrons were truly entertained by K’Alee; before she finished singing, a few patrons were enquiring: “What is the number to vote for her?

If these comments are anything to go by, one from this batch of female contestants is well placed to win Digicel Rising Stars 2008. However, any female wishing to win will have to overcome the two male groups left in the competition, especially the male group Kahlil who have distinguished themselves as the perennial crowd favourites and continuously have the judges swooning.

One of the most challenging things for me is how Jamaica votes,” commented Cameal. She continued, “Jamaica votes for males mostly because the voting public is female so you find that they will support the males more?but I’m putting out my best each week and hoping that they will throw their support behind me.

Cameal has highlighted a crucial issue in the psyche as well as the demography of the voting public, but lone female judge, Nadine Sutherland could not confirm. “Since Digicel Rising Stars came around there have been a lot of speculation and theories going around,” She indicated that she was not surprised about the supposed-theory, however, she could not confirm whether this theory is fact or fiction.

For me the key thing that I take into consideration for my performances are the responses that I get in the street, as well as from the judges” commented Lashana. The big-voiced singer from Westmoreland went on further to say, “You know that the wider Jamaica are the ones voting, so all you have to do is go out there and do your best and hope that your best captures them.”

Pressed further for a response in light of the fact that all the winners of Digicel Rising Stars so far have been males Lashana underscored: “For me all the contestants are major competition and I don’t single out gender or any other distinguishing feature as an indication for winning; I see everyone as competition.”

In response Nadine, Digicel Rising Stars Judge, performer and the winner of the first ever Tastee Talent Contest, said: “Digicel Rising Stars is not a competition that you can predict the winner…you can’t put your money out there on a person, you just have to wait until it is over because it can and will surprise you.”

Nadine rehashed the case of Lenya Wilks who was voted off the 2007 season, “When Lenya Wilks was voted off, I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it…so I say you just never know what Jamaica will do. If there aren’t any other cases I believe that this is one case that should tell us that we’re not supposed to be fixed on a specific person…this is talent we talking about here.”

K’Alee gave her take on the issue: “When you enter a competition you enter knowing that there is a chance you may win or lose.” With sparks of laughter she continued: “This is just one of those competitions and no one wants to lose.”

While indicating that she indeed entered to win, K’Alee drew the line saying: “The mere fact that I have come this far and have developed such a good relationship with the other contestants from all over Jamaica is great for me.” When asked what she feels are the odds of a female winning the competition, she indicated, “Anything is possible, all we have to do is give it our best and let Jamaica vote and vote.”

Women are the ones voting and as a woman you don’t vote for another woman who looks hotter than you or you feel threatened by,” A comment by Nicolene, an avid Digicel Rising Stars fan, as she argued with her friend over the possibility of a female winner.

Nicolene drove her point home: “Cameal has a great voice and she isn’t over the top sexy, so women will vote for her. Lashana will get votes too just like Cameal but once you have some shape and look a bit better like K’Alee people start thinking before they vote for you because as women we feel threatened by the beauty of other women. No one will feel threatened by SLR because they are little girls so they will give them the vote.”

On hearing this Nadine Sutherland shot back: “People will speculate, but really it’s all about who Jamaica wants and who they vote for.” But what of the male-dominated circle of winners?

We just have to ask ourselves what the competition was about then as opposed to now. Surely, females came up in the top positions…Dianna Rutherford, Candy, Deana Deacon, Nickeisha Barnes, it is just a matter of who was better over who in Jamaica’s eye. You can’t sit down and try to understand the logistics of that.”

Nadine explains. It’s not necessarily the contestants per se; it is about the performance and the personality.” In a cautious tone she commented, “Jamaica watches you…you are on their TVs five days a week, so they really scrutinize you and form their impression of you.”

Nevertheless, as the issue of the possibility of a female winner continues to generate discussions at water coolers, bus stops, in taxis, bars, hair salons and the like, what does Jamaica want? Stay tuned to the fifth season of Digicel Rising Stars and you will find out if a female can finally capture the crown.

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