Fame is a strange monster. It is a phenomenon that transforms some people; those who experience it personally and those who stand watching – as mere spectators – on the sidelines.
The sleepy village of Sanguinetti in North West Clarendon is experiencing the peculiar pull of the fame monster, leaving residents largely divided as to whether they should celebrate or downplay the significance of Dalton Harris’ international success as a contestant and finalist in The X Factor UK contest.
“Dalton fi do better by his mother. Him fi deal with her better. She fight with her seven kids dem, dem always a go school, dem always clean, so why him caan just give her the respect she deserves. Because she beat him? She scold him outta love, it wasn’t no abuse thing,” a male resident told Loop News reporter, Claude Mills.
The winner of The X Factor is awarded a £1 million (approximately J$162,632,400) recording contract with Syco Music, in association with Sony Music. However, the money is a secondary and peripheral concern to the people of Sanguinetti, who are worried that the sleepy hamlet’s reputation is being tarnished by the ongoing mudslinging.
“Why as him ah get some real success now him choose fi disrespect him mother? Him shoulda a try elevate her and not put her in a negative light. It nuh look good and it nuh feel good as a parent,” another resident said.
Others refused to talk to the Loop team that visited the community earlier this week, while some made sotto voce comments about Dalton’s perceived sexuality.
Dalton Harris (file photo)
“Dalton nah represent fi we. Him a represent fi himself. We nah go accept the siddown inna man lap thing. Anno Jamaica that,” a young resident said defiantly.
Others simply shrugged and refused comment. Some laughed with derision. Derision? And scorn? Why? Germans have a word for it: schadenfreude, which means joy and pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune. Jamaicans simply call it ‘bad mind’.
“Some people in Sanguinetti bad mind mi, and that is why dem a rejoice say mi son a do mi so bad. Dem say ‘poor Sylvia son buss and she still nah go get nothing because dem a live bad’. People bash me here, people bash me there, over me owna pickney; mi enemy dem a laugh at me,” said Sylvia Campbell, Dalton’s 52-year-old mother.
In an interview with the UK Mirror newspaper, Dalton reportedly stated that he was abused as a child.
“When I finish a song, I touch my chest as I feel my heart is exploding, or I touch my head because I feel it’s unreal. My childhood had no love or support. Applause means, finally, I have value,” the emerging star was quoted as saying.
Sylvia Campbell, Dalton Harris’ mother. (Photo: Reginald Allen)
Comments like these have cut his mother to the quick, sending her spiraling into depression mingled with self-doubt.
“Him mek it look like me a di worst human being that God ever create. It mek mi enemies dem feel good, the things him a say about me,” she said
Residents are also upset about perceived half-truths and exaggerations in Harris’ recent interviews.
“We never had electricity. Sometimes we couldn’t afford food. We brought water from the river. But it didn’t make me angry,” Dalton told the UK Mirror.
He also spoke about the subject of childhood abuse.
“There’s a cut above my right eyebrow and cuts around my ears and head, but I grew my hair to hide them. There are more on my chest, arm, shoulder, back, thighs, legs and feet. I was punched so hard by a guy dating my mum, I crashed through a window,” he said.
Campbell, who is presently unemployed, admitted that there were problems, and said Dalton was ‘troublesome’ as a child.
“Yes, I beat him when he was rude, but it was more scolding than anything else; mi scold him outta love because growing up, he was very troublesome,” she said.
Dalton also addressed the mental scars which linger to this day.
“I was told that I should walk into the road and kill myself,” he told the UK Mirror. “I was told I was ugly and illegitimate.”
Most Caribbean-born people can relate to the crippling levels of poverty and the verbal and physical abuse at the hands of parental figures, but residents of Sanguinetti appear to be baffled at Harris’ need to share the most negative aspects of his upbringing to the international mainstream media. The locals who spoke with Loop News echoed this sentiment.
“Me ah Creton, (a local driver) whose truck she tell him fi stand in front of mek it run him over. But mek mi tell yuh this. Dalton need fi deal with his mother better because she is a good mother. One morning, she begged me carry them to school in the truck and he was standing up while the young one sat down and he fell out the back of the truck and get some coco (bumps on his forehead) and she pick him up and carry him go Percy Junor Hospital all day, and ah mi go a mi yard and get money to give her to buy medicine for him. Why him never talk about the good she do?” ‘Creton’ asked.
Another resident, a popular roadside vendor, said Harris was “too revengeful”.
“Is like him have up his mother all this time and ah use the contest to deal with her wicked and get revenge on her. It hurtful because the town of Sanguinetti love him, but he is ungrateful. The New Testament Church of God pastor who prayed for him as a youth when he heard him sing in the church for the first time, all those people, him forget them, including the people dem from Grantham who encouraged him to enter Rising Stars. We hope he wins (The X Factor), but him fi deal wid his mother better,” he said.
The mother of seven, who lives in a rented house in Sanguinetti, said she expects the issues with her son to be resolved one day.
“When my other kids see what is happening, one of them – mi daughter – laugh and say ‘ah good, ah that fi happen to you because you love Javon (Dalton) too much’. He was my first bwoy pickney, and mi try the best with all my kids. I wish him all the best and hope he wins on Saturday,” she said.