The 15th season of the popular televised competition Digicel Rising Stars culminated last Sunday night with Tasha-Gay Solomon copping the title. It marked the first time a female contestant has won the competition since Jody-Kay James in 2015.
Solomon, 18, earned $1.5 million, a smartphone and a grant valued at $1.5 million from the Digicel Foundation. Second place went to 22-year-old Odean 'Journey' Ricketts who received $600,000.
“This year the talent was really good,” Shroeter told the Jamaica Observer. “I think what stood out was the selection of the contestants. The judges had a hard time and weren't really sure what to do, so you had instances where they were bringing back a lot of wildcards,” she continued.
Journey, one such wild card, was brought back by judge Conroy Wilson. The other judges were Anthony Miller and singer Alaine.
Looking back at the show's growth since it first aired in 2004, Shroeter declined to compare the pool of talent over the years.
“I think each year stands out by itself,” she said. “What was special about this year is that the majority of the top 10 contestants were extremely talented, so that was good.”
Diel finished in third place.Other top 10 contestants included Raybetz, Mordeki, Marianna McPherson, Shakkanova and Shanet Messam. The season also had a dubious first, when Daniell “Kei Kei” Shelton voluntarily dropped out.
Speaking to the Observer last month, the singer said she chose to discontinue after receiving harsh comments on social media about her performances.
Of all the Digicel Rising Stars winners, only Christopher Martin (2005) and Romain Virgo (2007) have risen to mainstream prominence. Last month, 2010 winner Dalton Harris made it past the auditions of X Factor UK.