No easy win for Torisha
SINGING COMPETITIVELY for the first time proved to be a challenge for Richard Stoute Teen Talent winner Torisha Holder – but she was ready to take it on.
And her determination paid off in a big way. Her win means that she has also won a recording contract with Gold Coast Records, a two-year scholarship to the Barbados Community College (BCC), $5 000, a weekend for two at Bougainvillea Beach Resort and an opportunity to perform at that hotel, and a chance to perform at the Barbados Music Awards and share the stage with Deniece Williams and other international stars.
Holder is still basking in the glory of her win last Sunday night, “It has not really sunk in yet. I am still in shock but very happy and excited,” she said.
As the 18-year-old songbird reminisced on her experience in the contest, she admitted, “It is much harder than it looks.”
In recounted the rigours of competition, she admitted that the preliminary rounds were hard for her on many levels. First, she almost missed out on a chance to advance to the semi-finals when she placed fourth in her first preliminary performance.
Holder still found inspiration in that competitive context, though. “The other contestants were nice and we supported and encouraged each other, plus Mr Stoute was very helpful. He was an inspiration because he believed in me more than I believed in myself,” she said.
Holder, who originally sang Flying Without Wings, admitted, “It was not working for me. Even though I thought I was doing well, the points I was getting were not good and I decided to change.” With a chance to perform in another preliminary, she changed her song to Midnight Train To Georgia, which proved to be the right song for her voice. “The song was giving me stress at first, but I had to work hard and it paid off plus the people like how I performed it,” she said.
On another level, she had to cope with the death of her best friend Pearl Cornelius, who died in the Campus Trendz fire in early September. “I felt like giving up many times I was practising the song Midnight Train To Georgia.
“My voice was gone and I could not get it right no matter how I tried, and Pearl persuaded me to go on. She told me there were many people who would kill to have a voice like mine. The Friday that she died, I visited her that afternoon and she encouraged me not to give up.
When I left her that afternoon as I was on my way home I heard about the fire and had to miss the preliminary scheduled for the following Sunday, so if nothing else I had to do it for Pearl.”
Despite the odds Torisha faced, she always had a fighting spirit. “I always thought I had a strong chance of winning, [but] when I heard the other singers and how good they were I was doubtful but decided not to focus on who had the better voice or the better style but that I had to bring my own style.”
However, prior to the Teen Talent competition, Holder did not have much experience singing in public. She recalled that one evening while she was a student at the St Philip Primary School, she and some friends were “playing around” and she was singing Amazing Grace and a senior teacher heard her and asked her to sing the song at morning assembly.
“I told the teacher that I only knew one verse and she said that I would have to sing it twice, then.”
When Holder went on to Deighton Griffith, she did not sing at all until in her fifth form year when she sang at a school concert to the surprise of everyone, even her classmates. She then sang at the school’s graduation.
But she had not sung in public since then. In fact, she was interested in becoming a news anchor.
“I did not have a great interest in singing, but I was pushed by everyone to a point where I decided to give the Teen Talent a try.”
Holder also said that she had been working but gave up the job because “I was not willing to make any accommodation for my participation in the Teen Talent competition”.
Now that she has won the title, Holder has plans to keep singing and see where it goes.
“I will keep singing at what comes along, get some voice training and make a career out of music.”
Holder also intends to use the opportunity at BCC to further her music development and even take on learning an instrument.
As Holder reflects on her experience over the past three months, she counts it an experience she will never forget. When asked what her most memorable moment was, Holder said it was the moment she was announced the winner.
“I was fearful that I would not have placed, as I went into the second half in fifth place, but I knew I had a lot of points to make up and I gave it my all.”
She added that even though some persons might think the release of the scores after the first halfmight have affected the spirits of some of the contestants, it made her push harder and “up the game in the second half”.
“I proved that if you really want it you will have to work for it,” she said with conviction.