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professionally, drawing inspiration from Celine Dion, Pink, Whitney Houston, and later artists like Beyoncé, Emeli Sandé, and Adele. But while dreaming of international stardom, Chin remained


firmly committed to staying in Jamaica. Married for three years and settled in Jamaica, she was determined to make her career work from the island, rather than moving to the US or back to Britain, where she had gone to high school. “You have to recognise that this is a small space,” says


ZJ Sparks. “It takes a lot of other elements than talent to break an artist internationally.” Not that Chin didn’t try. Her efforts to break into the US market were similarly challenging. She’d done the rounds of major label showcases, without success. “People see this Jamaican girl, who looks Chinese, but has a rock sound — and didn’t know what to do with me,” she says. “You’d have labels say, ‘Can’t you just be the next Alicia Keys?’” Then, in 2012, her friend and mentor


Orville “Shaggy” Burrell summoned Chin to his house to encourage her to audition for The Voice. The two had met four years before, in the lead-up to Shaggy’s first benef it concert for Jamaica’s Bustamante Hospital for Children, the only pediatric hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean. Over the years, Shaggy had become a friend and a mentor. “If anybody has a voice, Tess,” he told her, “you do.’”


“Shaggy always knew that I wanted an international career,”


says Chin. “I did all I could do in terms of here [Jamaica]. I was hesitant and scared, because I didn’t want people to think I was turning my back on Jamaica, on my roots, on my career here. I very much love Jamaica.” But despite her initial apprehension, Chin seized the


opportunity to move from her Jamaican plateau to an international platform. Not everyone thought The Voice was a good idea. “A lot of people said, ‘What she a do dat fah? She bigger than that,’” she recalls. “I’m not bigger than fourteen million viewers. I don’t have a Grammy. I don’t have a Moon Man [MTV Award]. That’s where my sights have always been.”


Chin’s apparently overnight ascension to international stardom came after more than a decade of plying her trade at home in Jamaica. She was long a favourite at local venues, but struggled to break through commercially


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ADRIAN CREARY


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