I wont detract from what is really most important: Tessanne Chin is now the winner of the latest series of NBC’s The Voice. Last night, we Jamaicans, at home or abroad, direct or by contact, anyway we wished, were able to celebrate madly. We jumped. We screamed. We told our friends who already knew. We told anyone who wanted to hear and those who did not. “Tessanne win!” I screamed out of my hotel window in Miami. My wife told me to behave.
I was behaving. She and my daughter then went to bed, after watching two nerve-filled hours and waiting for what we hoped and what we dared believe. I could hear the bed covers rustling, and the strains of “Jamaica, land we love”. Our anthem as a lullaby. I could cry.
We had no Dutch pot covers to bang together, so I found whatever I could to knock and yell. Just one last parting blast before I too went to sleep.
Awaking this morning, and due to head back to Jamaica, all I could think about were the images of manic people in Kingston’s Half Way Tree, jumping and yelling. It was like the Olympic Finals all over again. This is now THE way Jamaicans celebrate big events. We don’t do things halfway, except at Half Way Tree.
There will be interviews and hopes of contracts and tours and phone calls and many things to crush the energies of Jamaica’s latest songbird. But, the best moment to come will be when she returns to the island. I imagine a lot of people will turn out to welcome her back. She’s become our latest big celebrity. Her humility is infectious. Her genuine Jamaicaness is so heartwarming–that, I think took many by surprise. Bolt is brash–not rude, at all, though. Tessanne seems tender. I like it that we have offered the world this contrast in images of who we are.
I just went to the airport lounge to wait for my flight. I complimented the airline for providing food now: pastries, to go with coffee and juice. “If you want butter…” the assistant began. “Bread and butter?” I asked in a Jamaican accent. Her colleague immediately asked her coworker “Did you see The Voice?” Job done, Tessanne. People have that phrase locked in their heads. Do they imagine Jamaica as easily as when they hear “Red Stripe” or “Yeah, man!” or “Chill, Winston,” or see Usain’s grin or Shelly-Ann’s hair? I think so.
All of the discussion about “likkle but tallawah” will rage on, and good. We need to build on that. Build on it! We need to bring the unifiying aspect of seeing one of our own do well for what it says about our country and our region. The bickering with our Caricom neighbors is sapping of more than patience. But, I think we understand that “Out of many, one people”, can be a phrase that stretches beyond our borders and beyond our own diaspora.