Interview with ...
Cameal Davis


Cameal Davis made history in 2008 as the first female to win Digicel Rising Stars, Jamaicaís talent competition. She is the latest singer signed to Penthouse Records at the end of the year 2009.
Return on the beginning of her promising career and her collaboration with Penthouse Records.

(March 2010 - penthouserecords.free.fr)

Cameal, you are the new Penthouse Records artist. You signed with Donovan Germain some weeks ago. When and how did you meet him ?
One of the prizes after winning the the Digicel Rising Stars competition includes two singles. One of these singles was produced by Shane Brown who also works closely with Mr. Germain at Penthouse, so when I went to work on the single thatís were I was introduced to him. I thought to myself wow Iím in the presence of a well known and prestigious producer. I was very much honored.

What are the terms of your contract ?
We have not officially signed any contract but when we do it will be that of both management and producing.

We know you since you won the Digicel Rising Stars last year. Tell us how you lived this experience.
Wow ! Exciting ! Unbelievable ! Greatful ! These are just some of the words to describe my experience. From auditions throughout the competition, up until the end it had been one very new but wonderful experience for me. It was a case where it wasnít constant competition in terms of meeting new and also very talented people, you become friends and even build new relationships. You learn how to deal with people from different backgrounds and appreciate everyone for their differences because thatís what makes everyone unique. I also got to meet established artists, those who I would only see on television (laughs). We also got first hand lessons on the Music Industry by Carlette DeLeon and Jerome Hamilton from Headline Entertainment (Booking Agency). Miss Fay Ellington a well known actress and poet also gave us etiquette lessons, she also reminded us to be very keen on pronunciations, enunciations, even voice clarity. As an artist these aspects are extremely important. So for me it was an all round experience. After the competition I was well known by almost everyone I met on the streets and every where even more so because I was the first female ever to win the competition. I was in a Digicel commercial, my face was everywhere on billboards, in stores, wow ! When I went on the internet it was loaded with my performances, this gave me a warm feeling inside. I even did road tours locally in Jamaica, acting, speeches at schools for career days and other performances. I totally enjoyed my experience, and I continue to enjoy myself.

Nadine Sutherland was one of the judges during this competition. Wasn't it to difficult to be evaluated by an artist who is considered as the best female singer of the current generation in Jamaica ?
Nadine Sutherland is an excellent judge and coincidentally she is one of my favorite female artist, so being judged by her I wouldnít say difficult but a case where I knew I had to bring my A game, and I was honored to be judged by her. At least I would know what my strong points were and what I needed to work on.

You received $1 million Jamaican dollars during the final of the Digicel Rising Stars. How did you spend this money ?
I put more than 50 % of this money into savings and assisted my Mother and younger siblings. Family is extremely important to me.

You are 24-year-old. I know that you grew up in the Denham Town community and you had a job at the Ministry of National Security. Tell us more about your life before the Digicel Rising Stars.
Life before the competition was very eventful for me. I worked at the Ministry of National Security as a Customer Service Representative (Team Leader). Just before that I worked at various hotels on the North Coast of Jamaica in Ocho Rios, the tourist capital. I worked at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Hotel as a Dining Room Junior Supervisor, Royal Plantation as a Band Singer. In my earlier years I attended Kingston Technical High school were I studied Food & Nutrition and Sciences. During my years at this institution I managed to garner multiple achievements for which I worked very hard. I got numerous awards for academic achievement, music, track and field, poetry, and a host of other activities. I tried everything : music, drama, athletics, inclusive of netball and track and field (laughs). I had a philosophy were I ďbelieveĒ when you try different things you will without a doubt excel in at least one. I received the Principalís award for being the most all rounded student. I was president for more than one clubs, class monitor, Head Girl and even class Valedictorian at Graduation. Whatever I do, I try to do it to the best of my abilities. In 2003 I was awarded a scholarship by The Jamaica Public Service for excellence in academics where I attended The Kettering University for a Summer Program (AIM) in Michigan, USA. I also attended The Runaway Bay Heart Academy where I studied Food and Beverage Services and House Keeping where I got exposed to the Hospitality Industry. I always aim for the highest in everything I do I entered endless competitions musically and otherwise a number of gold and silver medals can attest to this I was also very active in Church. I strongly believe that with god a strong family relationship and all these achievements prepared, strengthened and kept me grounded for the wider world for which Iím undoubtedly thankful. I grew up in Denham Town which is very volatile but this would never deter me from dreaming big and achieve my goals and o also wanted to be a very good role model for my younger siblings and other young people.

Your singing sounds a little like that of Whitney Houston. What are your main musical influences ?
My style of singing is one of soulfulness so without a doubt my musical influences are of those singers who arenít afraid to belt and sing there hearts out. Namely : Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklyn, Mary J. Blige, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Beyonce, Lauryn Hill, Rihanna, Toni Braxton, Beres Hammond, Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys, India Irie, Luther Vandros, Lady Saw, Tessanne Chin, Assassin and Jennifer Hudson. I remember practicing to sing all of Whitney Houstonís songs in the mirror when I was younger, and everything she did I tried (laughs).

Have you ever taken any singing lessons ?
I was awarded a six months scholarship for vocal training with Joy Music, but before that I never had formal training I had just been singing because I love it and the performances at competitions, assisting others in singing and listening to my favorites artists also helped in my musical development.

Do you write your own lyrics ?
I do write my own lyrics.

Where do you find inspiration ?
My inspirations reflect everything that happens around me and in wider society, my family, love, achievements, failures, success, disappointments, friends and even personal and other personsí relationships.

Tell us about your first single for Penthouse "We can" in combination with Assassin on the Serve and Protect riddim.
Wow !!! I love this song, the riddim is great and the collaboration factor is the icing on the cake. I got the rhythm from Donovan Germain to write a song, so one day I was sitting in my room with one of my younger brothers and the idea hit me. Constant complaints and cries from people were that times were hard and fewer people were saying I can. Right then I started thinking how will there ever be a change if it does start with oneís self. I imagined those people who tell you, you will and can never make it, the fact that with god all things are possible and the song evolved from there, my little brother even caught on and gave me a few words (laughter) Assassin !!! Unbelievably talented and when I was asked what I thought about the idea of doing a combination with Assassin, my first response was a very broad smile on my face (laughs). I respect Assassin for his extensive and witty writing skills, his professionalism and attitude towards performances. I thought I could learn a lot from him so without question I was ready for that combination.

There is also a solo version of this single on the 5th volume of "Penthouse Showcase" compilation. Was it recorded before or after the combination ?
The solo version was done before the combination.

You recorded a title on the Duck riddim.
Yes, "Another Sad Love Song" is a cover of the Toni Braxtonsí original. This is a very funny story. The rhythm was about to be released and Donovan Germain said I need to find a song for it, so he gave me the rhythm and some song ideas to go home and match with the rhythm. These songs were ok but not the ďITĒ (laughs). So I went to the studio and on that night I was listening to the rhythm and by now most of the other artists had already recorded their songs, so it was now an even bigger challenge to find a song. I took the CD I had with the rhythm, left the studio to sit outside in the car, there I started brainstorming. I even accessed the internet on my phone trying to find a song (laughs) I played the rhythm over and over, until that song popped into my head. So I tried it and it worked, I called Donovan with my fingers crossed, for him to listen to my idea. He listened and approved it I was ecstatic. Donovan began laughing, clearly I was sweating from my assignment (laughter). He then replied "Yes thatís how I want to see you working hard, thatís how you develop as an artist" I felt accomplished (laughs). Now the song is one of the favoritesí on the rhythm, Yeah !!!

Could you tell us about your brand new single "God bless the children" ?
The new song "God bless the children" is actually a cover. It's a song from the 70 s done originaly by Nicky Thomas. The song is basically asking god to bless and watch over our children especially with what is going on in the world right now. The children are our future and we should care for them.

Did you record other songs for Penthouse which were not released yet ?
Yes I have recorded other songs which havenít been released yet I even have collaboration this time with Romain Virgo which will be on his album, the song "I'm Doing Good".

What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
Donovan Germain appreciates excellent music, he knows what he wants and he allows the artist to express onesí self. He loves the old school feel for the music which I appreciate and he likes to see an artist push themselves which for me allows me to grow and develop my musical skills. He listens to your ideas and allows you to deliver at your best. He imparts his knowledge and is somewhat of a perfectionist and I love that about him this will definitely be a plus for me as the artist to represent by such a well renowned and experienced manager/producer as Donovan Germain.

During the golden years of Penthouse records (90s), which songs left you most memories ?
As it relates to songs produced by Donovan Germain in the 90s it's hard to say because they all were very well done. Some of these songs include : "Land of love" by Marcia Griffiths. I also did a version of this song in the competition and also re-recorded it with her. "Closer to you" also by Marcia Griffith, "Chatty Chatty Mouth" by Tony Rebel and "Brinks" by General Degree. It is very hard to single out songs. Artists may narrow it down a bit : Marcia Griffiths, Beres Hammond, Wayne Wonder, Sanchez, Buju Banton, Tony Rebel and the list is endless. I am very proud to be associated with such a label and producer.

Do you know the other contestants who also participated to the Digicel Rising Stars who recorded for Penthouse like Romain Virgo, Nickeishia Barnes, Khalil... ?
I have had the privilege of not just knowing them but being real close friends. Romain is my favorite Rising Star. Nickeisha and I grew up in similar communities so we connect and we keep in touch very often. Kahlil and I were in the same year so we practically lived as a family.

As a conclusion, what are you planning for your future works ? I've heard you 've played a leading role in a local rendition of the popular movie Dreamgirls. Do you still want to become a Hotel Manager or do you think to develop your musical career ?
My future plans definitely include me continuing a productive musical relationship with Donovan Germain and Penthouse. I will continue to get involved in acting and hope I can reach broad way some day (laughs). If one remains comfortable at the position at which they are, they will never strive for more so for me as it relates to becoming a Hotel Manager I still have that in my plans. I plan to start college next year to study Management Studies at the University of The West Indies (UWI). I will continue working hard because I plan to reach international with my singing.


DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS :

- Another Sad Love Song (2010 - Duck riddim)
- God Bless The Children (2010)
- We Can with Assassin (2009 - Serve & Protect riddim)
- We Can (2009 - Serve & Protect riddim)

listen to these singles :