Samantha Hayes and Sophia Ramcharan

Meet the Jimmy Cliff factor winners - part 1

Saturday 15th May 2010

Meet the Jimmy Cliff factor winners – part 1

The eight lucky winners of the Jimmy Cliff factor have been chosen and will be performing before The Harder They Come each night. So now it’s time to meet the first four and find out a bit more about them…

Monique Henry

My name is Monique; I come from Bulwell in Nottingham but currently live in Radford. I’ve been singing all my life. It’s my calling.

I wanted to be part of the competition because it was a great opportunity and a positive way of celebrating the legendary music of a true Jamaican icon. Both my parents are Jamaican therefore I wanted part of the experience.

I have never seen The Harder They Come so I’m excited to watch the performance and listen to the great music.

I have been to Jamaica once, I was very young but remember like it was yesterday, the weather, people, the atmosphere, food, and history, everything was so inspiring.

I’m looking forward to the Playhouse performance, I’ve watched performances there before and I hoped one day I would sing there! This is a personal goal I have now achieved. That makes me very proud of myself.

Sophia Ramcharan

My name is Sophia Ramcharan and I’ve been writing songs for a longer time than I’ve been singing in public! My love of reggae music started when I was a child, as one of my uncles ran a sound system and used to hold all night parties and dances. I remember watching the grown-ups dancing to back in the day artists such as The Melodians, Dennis Brown, Gregory Issacs and Yellow Man, to name but a few.
I got involved in the competition because I love reggae music, and I have wanted to start performing live for a while - this seemed like a good opportunity. I figured that if I could audition in front of a judging panel, then I’d be ok performing anywhere! A friend and I had recently put together a band called the ‘Rhythm Drivers’ who will be performing with me. This will be the band’s debut! Performing at the Playhouse will give me the opportunity to perform to a wider audience, because I believe that reggae music has a fantastic universal appeal. I’ll be performing some of my own songs such as ‘Take me Away’, as well as tracks from the film.
Jimmy Cliff is an iconic artist and the song ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ has a lot of sentimental value. The film Harder They Come is essential viewing and I’ve watched it many times whilst growing up. The soundtrack to the film takes the audience through a journey of hope in pursuit of fulfilling ones dreams and is a theme that everyone can relate to. My family are Jamaican and I’ve been to the Island many, many times and I have fallen in love with the vibe. The Island has a pulse that you can feel as soon as you land off the plane. The soundtrack to the film really represents all facets of life in Jamaica.

Luke Toon

My name is Paul Luke Toon, I come from Bulwell and I have been singing for many years. I started in Church from a young age and when I was in my teens I joined a Gospel Choir called Present Future Generation run by Freddie Kofi, which gave me lots of experience in performing, vocal techniques and singing in harmony with others as a team. I have sung in Residential Homes, Working Mens Clubs, Bars etc over the years. I have worked as a redcoat at Butlins in Minehead and was also a cast member in a few of the shows in the Skyline Venue. I also sing backing vocals for Mellonie Page and Andrew Randell, both Nottingham singers.

I suffer with an illness called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and it does affect my day to day life. Music is my escape from that part of my life…

I sang again with Freddie Kofi & his Britgos Choir at Westminster Abbey for Common Wealth Day, attended by the Queen. One of the songs we sang at the Abbey was “Let There Be A Change”, we have also recorded it for Freddie’s forthcoming album.

I heard about the competition through a friend on Facebook. I was invited to attend & have a crack at it, so I decided to give it a go & see what happened!

I think about Jimmy Cliff when I hear & play his music, he is such a great talent and an amazing singer & I enjoy listening & singing his songs.

I have never seen The Harder They Come but I am looking
forward to watching the show. Neither have I been to the Caribbean.

Nottingham Playhouse is a very well known venue and I am excited to be singing there and supporting The Harder They Come.

Samantha Hayes

My name is Samatha Hayes, I was born in Nottingham and have lived in St Ann’s for over 22 years.

From the age of 8 I have enjoyed writing and singing my own songs.

My return to what I feel are my ‘roots’ has lead me back to my Christian faith and singing Gospel Reggae to which I feel most akin to.

Having watched and enjoyed the film ‘The Harder They Come’ and visited the country of Jamaica (my parents birth place); entering the competition seemed a natural decision to make.

When I hear the voice of Jimmy Cliff, I hear pain tinged with determination. He brings sunshine to songs which are uplifting and hope in what may seem like an hopeless situation.

Performing at Nottingham Playhouse is an experience I am looking forward to and feel privileged to be a part of a production that showcases music from my childhood and the rich culture I have inherited from my parents.