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Romain Virgo on making ‘mango tree music’ and doing his bit to make reggae a commercial commodity.

Written by Davina Hamilton—-

BIG DREAMS: Romain Virgo—-

IT SEEMS like it was just yesterday that a fresh-faced Romain Virgo sung his way to victory in the Jamaican reality TV show Rising Stars.

But it was, in fact, eight years ago that the talented teen won the competition and scored a recording contract as part of his prize.

Thankfully, he didn’t then fall into the musical abyss that has sadly swallowed up many reality TV contest winners in years gone by. On the contrary, Virgo’s powerhouse vocals went on to deliver hits including Love Doctor, Who Feels It Knows It and an impressive cover of Sam Smith’s 2014 hit Stay With Me; thereby establishing him as one of reggae’s most gifted young singers.

Still, the 25-year-old says his Rising Stars victory is never too far from his mind.

“I’ll never forget that moment,” says Virgo, who was 17 when he won the competition. “Whenever I see it on replay, it brings me right back to that moment. I think I’ve grown a lot since then and I think people are now focusing on Romain Virgo the artist, as opposed to Romain Virgo, the winner of Rising Stars. But I’ll never forget where I’m coming from.”

Having performed in the Caribbean and throughout Europe since the start of the year, the Jamaica-born singer cites a performance in Guyana as one of his highlights; not least, because he was on the same bill as reggae veteran Beres Hammond.

“That was a really big opportunity for me,” he confirms. “I have a lot of respect for Beres Hammond and he always gives me good advice. In fact I’ve told him that there’s never been a time when I’ve been around him and not learned something new. It’s always a pleasure to be around him. If he sees you’re about positive music and good vibes, he’s always very encouraging.”

Though people might expect young artists to gravitate towards current music styles, Virgo has bucked the trend; delivering songs that are contemporary, while staying true to reggae’s classic and traditional roots.

More about longevity than instant hype, Virgo says he wants his music to be around for years to come.

“I look at songs from a long-term point of view,” he explains. “If you want the hype and you want it now, then you can deejay. I’m not bashing the deejays because I represent Jamaican music in general, everywhere I go. But I want to make music that will last the test of time.

Romain Virgo

Romain Virgo

“I want to make the type of music… in country you would call in ‘mango tree music’ [laughs]; music that you know will still be relevant in 20 years time.

“I know lots of people my age who love Beres Hammond and other artists of his generation. I want to make that type of music. And if me and other young singers don’t make that type of music, there’ll be nobody for future generations of singers to look up to.”

Beyond his own career, Virgo hopes to be part of a movement that sees reggae music enjoy more commercial success.

“I want to do my part to make reggae music truly mainstream,” he says. “Whenever I travel the world and I hear the music playing in a taxi or playing when I walk into a hotel, I’d love to hear reggae music in that setting.

Romain Virgo

Romain Virgo

“One of the ways to push for that is by young artists coming through and continuing to represent the music.

“Reggae music is too powerful to not be heard in a mainstream way throughout the world. I believe in this music and I love it; I want to see it grow and enjoy the same success as other mainstream genres. That is my dream for reggae.”

For more information, visit Follow Romain Virgo on Twitter: @RealRomainVirgo

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