Aiming higher

Aiming higher

UNITED STATES - The Voice may have an Outstanding Reality Competition Program Emmy to its name, but it still doesn't have a breakout star.

Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin is hoping to change all that.

This season five winner, who is part Chinese, Cherokee, English and African, is hard at work on her debut album.

Her secret weapon? Celebrity friends and fans like Shaggy and Sean Paul.

"There's been a whole range of producers and writers, and the music that's been coming out (of the studio) - there are some pretty powerful songs," Chin, 28, told M over the phone from New York, where she is working on her post-win album with Shaggy.

It was the Jamaican-American star behind hits like Boombastic who urged her to join the US reality singing show, where she landed on celebrity coach Adam Levine's team.

Chin, already an established name in Jamaica with more than half a dozen singles and an album to her name, was encouraged to expand her horizons.

"I was very afraid," she said of joining The Voice. "It was something very different from what I had done, but my friends and fans in Jamaica really supported me.

"It was like a national stir in Jamaica. And the entire diaspora came together to support me, so going home after that was an amazing experience."

The sixth and current season of The Voice, which features returning guest judges Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton, airs on Sundays at 8.10pm on AXN (StarHub Ch 511), in the same week as the US telecast.


Chin saw multiple performances on the show - Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing - go straight to the top of various Billboard charts.

She is aiming for greater heights and revealed in the interview that for her new album, due out this year, she tapped on the talent of Grammy-winning songwriters like Diane Warren (Because You Loved Me, I Don't Want to Miss a Thing).

"It'll definitely still have a little bit of island flair," she said of the album. "I'm having a wonderful time experimenting."

She has also been having fun mingling with artists she hopes to consider peers and some she already considers heroes.

Last week, she was invited by US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to perform at the White House: Women Of Soul event, and was thrilled to meet and watch other powerhouses like Aretha Franklin and Janelle Monae.

"I was beside myself the whole night, praying I wouldn't fall off the stage," she said with a laugh.

She said her idols have taught her to look beyond the simple pop star dream.

"To be in this industry, you have to be a businesswoman," she said. "A lot of artists don't realise it's a lot about marketing your brand and not just about creating a song."

Chin also has a more personal wish: to be able to spend more time with her husband, Jamaican radio personality Michael Cuffe, at home.

"We're celebrating our third wedding anniversary later this month and I do miss him a lot when I'm away (recording)," she said.

"I think we're just going to chill out."

What past winners are up to

Season 1: Javier Colon, 35

This singer charmed his coach Adam Levine and the rest of the US to take home the first The Voice crown, along with US$100,000 (S$126,700) and a recording contract from Universal Republic Records.

He also later opened for Levine's rock band Maroon 5 on their 2012 tour.

But none of these has helped Colon chalk up chart hits and he has blamed his record company.

"When you pour your heart and soul into a new album that you think is really great, and your label who is supposed to support, market and promote your music does neither, it's really hard not to be upset," he said in a statement in 2012, after leaving the label.

Season 2: Jermaine Paul, 34

Before The Voice, Paul was a Best R&B Performance By A Group or Duo Grammy nominee in 2006 for the duet If This World Were Mine with Alicia Keys.

A backup singer for Keys, Mary J Blige and Joss Stone for years, he joined the show to finally step into the main spotlight.

Well, fans and Paul are still waiting. His debut album, which was supposed to be out in 2012, has been pushed back for release this year.

Season 3: Cassadee Pope, 24

Pope, a country star to watch, is perhaps the most successful The Voice winner to date.

Her 2013 debut album, Frame by Frame, topped the US country chart while debut single Wasting All These Tears has sold more than a million copies in the US.

She has also toured with country stars like Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry and Tim McGraw.

Season 4: Danielle Bradbery, 17

The youngest The Voice winner is also a country music star in the making, with a guest spot on Brad Paisley's tour late last year and a spot on hot new country hunk Hunter Hayes' upcoming tour.

Her self-titled debut, released last year, peaked at No. 5 on the US country chart.

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