FIRST PLACE TROPHIES: In July Tisha Gittens represented Trinidad and Tobago in the US Open ISKA World Martial Arts Championships various forms including musical forms, creative forms and sparring and returned to T&T with two first place trophies.

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Reaching for the stars

By Verdel Bishop

Tisha Gittens may have placed second on Digicel Rising Stars but she is determined to make a lasting impression on the music industry. The pretty and talented songstress who is eying a career in music is hoping to be accepted to an institute with a recognised music programme. She has already applied to Berklee College of Music, located in Boston, Massachusetts which is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. She has also sent an application to one of the premier institutions for the study of music, the Manhattan School of Music which draws talented individuals from all over the world. Prior to the Digicel competition Gittens 19, a former St Joseph Convent pupil had settled on studying International Relations, however, a lot has changed since then — her experience in the Digicel Rising Stars competition has changed her focus, she knows she must pursue what makes her happy — music. 

Gittens remembers the challenging moments of the Digicel Rising Stars competition — having to work extremely hard week after week to present to her mentors, her fans and supporters the best that she can be. She remembers the times when her mentor’s criticisms would make her cringe. However, those, she says are memorable experiences because they have helped her to grow and develop throughout the competition.

Gittens started singing when she was eight years old. Throughout her primary and secondary school life she entered various calypso competitions. She was also the lead singer in her school parang band at St Joseph’s Convent, St Joseph. At age 17, Tisha entered the Digicel Rising Stars competition for the first time but didn’t make it through.     

 In 2012 she picked up martial arts as a hobby and ended up falling in love with the sport.  Earlier this year, she tested her skills among the best at the US Open Martial Arts event in Orlando Florida, hailed as the largest sport karate event in North America and, quite possibly the world. The US Open ISKA World Martial Arts Championships was held July 5-6, 2013 in Walt Disney World, Florida. More than 45 countries were represented at the event. Gittens represented Trinidad and Tobago in various forms including musical forms, creative forms and sparring and returned to T&T with two first place trophies and a third place trophy.  

Recently Gittens auditioned for Disney Theatrical Productions for a spot on the Disney Broadway production, The Lion King. While she awaits positive feedback, she remains determined that nothing will stop her from securing a career in the music industry. 

 “Before this competition I wanted to do international relations but now I have decided that music is what I should do. It is what makes me happy. I have reflected on the entire competition and my experiences and I think that I should do what makes me happy. 

“Right now I’m looking at different universities. I realise that music is my passion; I applied to Berklee School of music in New York and Manhattan School of music and a few others including The University of the West Indies. I have high hopes of getting accepted into a good music programmme. I also auditioned for Disney’s Lion King. I am hoping to be on the Broadway stage. That will be a once in a lifetime experience. I think that’s every singer’s dream. 

“I was always encouraged by friends to enter the Digicel Rising Stars competition, which I did for the first time two years ago but I didn’t make through at that time. I did my homework though. I was aiming for the number one spot but I did my best and I am still proud about making it this far. The money I won in second place will help with furthering my music education.

“This competition helped me to grow not only as a performer but also as a person. It helped me to remember that I can do anything that I put my mind to. There was one point in the competition where I got some negative criticism and it felt disheartening but I used that opportunity to move forward and to push to the highest point. The criticism helped me to grow because I was determined to work harder and it brought me this far. It was nerve -wracking; you never know who would go home. I worked hard during this competition. I campaigned very hard to earn my votes. 

Every day I would go around with a microphone; every Sunday evening I would go around my area in Edinburgh 500 and all over Central asking people to vote. I would go to malls and hand out fliers and I did promotion on some radio stations. I also campaigned hard on social websites. I had a lot of support. 

“I always try to do what makes me happy; besides singing I also love writing poetry and dancing. My first love is karate. I am shocked by my love for karate. When I started I never thought that I would love it so much. I always wanted to learn how to defend myself so I signed up for karate and I stuck with it. I am also going to continue with the karate. My advice to anybody will be to just work hard and do what you have to do to achieve your goals and whatever you are doing just be happy,” Gittens says.

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