In 2008, a young singer named Versatile placed in the Top 10 of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Festival Song Competition. Although her entry, We Need Love, wasn’t selected as the winning song that year, Versatile still considered herself a winner and has gone on to build on that solid JCDC foundation.
The only female in the competition that year, she possessed that “it” factor that impressed renowned producer and acknowledged A&R specialist, Clifton ‘Specialist’ Dillon and prompted his decision to help her launch an international career. Cognisant of her talent, commitment and charisma, Specialist used his expertise and re-packaged and rebranded the singer, while keeping her true to her roots.
The eye-catching result of Specialist’s transformation is now packaged in I Eye, a singer who looks as if she could easily be stepping off the pages of Vogue, but who is steadily building her name with a solid discography. I Eye, formerly Versatile, is currently on a five-week European tour and has collaborated with deejay Alborosie on songs such as Mama She Don’t Like You and Surrender To Your Love. She has also this year released high-quality videos for her singles Mama’s Hand and I Know.
Since the end of July, it has been a case of going from one festival to another, as the 23-date tour is dominated by festivals, and I Eye says she has been enjoying every moment, whether she’s performing for full stadiums, rehearsing, or just taking in the sights of Europe. The tour opened at the Garance Reggae Festival in Bagnols Sur Ceze, France, on Thursday, July 29 and among the dates for August are the Rototom Festival in Benicassim, Spain, on August 24, as well as the Uprising Reggae Festival in Bratislava, Slovakia, on August 27. The tour ends at the Chiemese Reggae Summer Festival in Ubersee, Germany, on August 29.
I Eye credits the Festival Song Competition experience with not only giving her the exposure which has led to this stage in her career, but also says it is an excellent training ground for artistes who are serious about their craft. She is aware of the standard of those who have entered and won the competition in the past – among them Toots and the Maytals (Bam Bam), Eric Donaldson (Cherry Oh Baby), Tinga Stewart (Noweh No Better Than Yard) and Roy Rayon (Love Fever) – and intends to live up to their standard.
With her video shoot and tour rehearsal schedule, I Eye did not get to pay as much attention to this year’s Festival Song Competition as she usually does. However, she has fond memories of her times across the island. “They (her fellow contestants) really took care of me,” she remembers. “Going across the island was unforgettable. A lot of people think about touring as going abroad alone, but the Festival Song Competition tour makes you really go out and get close to your own people. For many contestants it is the only time they ever get to do a tour like that,” she said.
I Eye is looking forward to the release of her debut album, ‘Fevergrass’.
“Just like fever grass can heal, make tea, is a medicine, can deal with sinusitis, that is my music. It has a variety, with reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, gospel. Everybody can listen to it. There is not a single beep. It is clean music, conscious music, music that the world has been waiting for,” I Eye assured.