Digicel Rising Stars returns! - Talent show to continue legacy with 18th season
At the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Digicel Rising Stars was forced to cancel its live shows.
Producers instead decided to air a 16-part docu-series looking back at the show's history. The trip down memory lane was well accepted by viewers, according to the series producer Sharon Schroeter, but come August 22, live shows are expected to air on TVJ once more. However, the 13-episode season has been reduced to 10 and will not have the live studio audience element Jamaicans have grown accustomed to.
"Live shows as we know it will be minus the audience which of course was a casualty of COVID but we're still planning to make it as exciting as or even more exciting than before," said Schroeter. "We know the live audience element will be missed and so what we're going to try to do is put some screens where the audience used to be to allow the contestants to see their family members via Zoom and, hopefully, that will add to their excitement. I am just glad we were able to bring the show back to Jamaicans who have been reaching out to tell us how much they miss it."
In another major change, producers will be unable to facilitate their usual islandwide trek in search of talent, and so potential contestants will have to submit their auditions via video.
"What we're doing this year is we're asking people to submit a one-minute video of them singing to our Digicel Rising Stars phone line which is 876-275-5555 and they can only do it via the BIP app. So they have to download it to send their videos along with their name and phone number," Schroeter explained. "People can be as creative as they want because we always encourage creativity and originality on Digicel Rising Stars but it's not a requirement. We just want to be able to hear what the person is singing so we can judge carefully."
The cut-off date for videos is August 9. The show's producers and judges will then go through the submissions and select the top 10, who will move on to the live shows. The weekly voting process remains the same and that's how the winner will be selected. The producers are hoping to crown the winner by October 24. The prizes for the top three contestants also remain unchanged. The cash purse remains at $1.5 million for the winner, $600,000 for second place and $400,000 for third place. Terri-Karelle returns as host while Sanjay will be back in the Chill Room.
Schroeter told THE WEEKEND STAR that with the show having become a staple in Jamaican homes, sponsors and producers are happy the show has returned.
"This is our 18th year and Digicel Rising Stars has a special place in my heart. When I got the confirmation that we were actually going to do it this year, I think everybody was happy. The fact that we can have it again and give people this opportunity is everything," she said. "One thing with Digicel Rising Stars is that it allows people to live out their dreams and I think when COVID hit, it would have affected people a lot in that regard. The fact that they're allowed to do this now, to come back and live that dream again, people are happy."