Check out this article by Jamaican author Colin Channer featured in the Wall Street Journal. He discusses how Tessanne has Jamaican support and her being a “browning”.
Headline: ‘Voice’ Finalist Tessanne Chin Won’t Get Jamaica’s Votes But Has Its Support
Best Quote: The last time I saw my people this crazed about elections was in 2008, when Obama got their overwhelming support (Jamaicans couldn’t really cast a ballot in that contest either). To us, Tessanne is more than her talent, more than an exemplar of range, timing, and vocal control. She represents an idea that is deeply emotional. It’s the sense that we’ve always been good, great even, but have often had to accept second or third position, because that’s just the way of the world.
“The Voice,” like all talent shows that involve fan voting, is a populist revel. And it’s easy to dismiss such programs. Mostly I do. In fact, when I’d read in the Jamaica Observer some months ago that Tess had auditioned for “The Voice” I was a bit annoyed. My sense was, “Why is this news?” I slipped into an automatic position against her. I wanted and expected her to not go very far in the competition. I’d written her off as “an uptown singer,” good enough but able to have a moderate career because of privilege, because of Jamaica’s only partially dismantled connection between what you get to do and how you look.
To some Americans, Tessanne may be seen as a Jamaican, or a Jamaican with some Chinese ancestry and other ethnic links. In Jamaica, some people who view the world through a racial prism see her as a “browning”–a lighter skinned Jamaican whose color translates crudely into class privilege.
Popular music in Jamaica is one of the few spheres dominated by the black majority, downtown people. So uptown “brownings” in Jamaica have a complicated station in the local reggae/dancehall scene. Perhaps because of this those who’ve been successful like Tessanne, Sean Paul, Shaggy and Junior Gong, have had to work through suspicion, insults, slights.