November 13, 2023
Since it started two years ago, Tessanne Chin’s Voice Box has seen exponential growth in terms of participants.
“It has been incredible. The second year and we almost doubled the number of kids that were coming. After that we decided to put on a summer intensive over the past summer which would be able to offer kids the opportunity to come for two weeks and train for free. We were able through sponsors like Digicel Foundation, Lasco, iCool, The IYF Foundation, Tastee, and Meet the Mitchells, we put on a really cool show and at the end of it that got so much love from people. And, as a result, a number of these kids joined Voice Box. So, we have grown considerably,” Chin shared in an interview with the Jamaica Observer recently.
Voice Box is a space in which children aged six to 18 years get to hone their talents.
“Children get to come and hone their vocal abilities; not just to train but to also get the opportunity to perform… [I]t’s something that I always wanted to do because I came from the school of Cathi Levy Little People & Teen Players Club and that made a huge impact on my life. But I never thought it would happen in this way,” Chin explained.
She continued: “So basically, a friend asked me to give their kids some pointers and then that turned into two, three friends and then I had six kids, and it just grew from there…. So, Voice Box was born from that.”
Voice Box will stage its Christmas production on Sunday, December 3 at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.
Chin is excited about the production, which she hinted will also feature guest performers.
“It’s called The 4 Seasons of Christmas and we’re so excited about it. We’re bringing to you everything that makes Christmas nice. You get a little of everything them [the children]… talented bad! We’re looking to kick-start Christmas. Expect some guest performers,” said Chin.
Asked what she enjoyed most about working with children, Chin said: “Each child has their own unique way of looking at and appreciating things and it makes that more for me. And to see them try something and succeed at it, it’s the most gratifying thing. I love that they support each other and come together for their fellow castmates.”
According to Chin, Voice Box showcases the multi-talents of children. She has even hired others to assist with training.
“We have children three to five years old who want to join. There are kids who are interested in singing and some interested in performing. There are kids that just love to use their voices and there’s so much more to it than singing. We’ve even had to hire two wonderful teachers, and we also get help from Michael Harris; people like Michael Holgate, who directed our summer intensive and who’ll be directing our Christmas production. And also our amazing brothers over at the ASHE company, who have given us so much advice,” Chin shared.
The vocalist believes more needs to be done to invest in local talent.
“People scout here all the time. We have amazing and talented Jamaicans in Hollywood and on Broadway and they’re doing major things around the world. It’s time to invest in our talent,” she said.
As for goals and objectives for Voice Box, Chin hopes to have a facility dedicated towards honing young talent.
“I would like to see a full-blown facility dedicated towards young talent, and not just singers but also dancers and actors. I’d love to see us get into the technical side of things, like sound engineering and lighting. I see our own facility with our own classrooms, our own theatre, and our own booking agent. I see scholarships for different colleges and programmes. We can offer these kids from different walks of life an opportunity. A lot of the times, people look at the arts as a hobby. I’ve managed to make a life out of the arts and I would not have probably known that this would have been open to me if it weren’t for people like Cathi Levy, instilling that discipline and work ethic,” said Chin.
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