2013 Winner of The Voice Tessanne Chin’s Chinese Jamaican Mixed Background and The Forgotten Story of The Coolie Trade – Videos


The winner of The Voice 2013, Tessanne Chin, like a good amount of contestants on TV singing competitions, they are not complete amateurs who happen to stumble onto the stage of a TV singing competition. Prior to being on The Voice, Tessanne worked as a backup singer for such artist as Jimmy Cliff, Patti Labelle, Peabo Bryson and Gladys Knight. She has also collaborated with other artist such as Shaggy on “Never Let Go”, Protoje  on “Someone Like You”, the Trinidad and Tobago Soca band Kes on “Loving You”, and she was featured in a track by the famous Jamaican band Third World called “By My Side”. Tessanne had also released a solo single “Hideaway” which went on to be a minor hit, it was featured on VP Records’ Reggae Gold 2007 compilation. She also released two other solo singles “Messengers” and “Black Books” around this time. In 2010 Tessanne released her solo debut album digitally In Between Words. Her family members are also quite musically gifted. Her parents were in the band The Carnations, her older sister is notable Reggae and Dancehall artist Tami Chynn, her cousin Jay Hall is the  vocalist and guitarist for UK rockers Grassroutes (and previously The Royal Players), and her other cousin (Jay’s brother) Leon is a vocalist with the ska-fusion band Electrik Custard.

Speaking of family backgrounds, Tessanne Chin’s ethnic background puzzles many (especially here in the states). Chinese Jamaican, with some other ethnic mixes in her background: Cherokee, African, and English. People wonder how this came to be. An often forgotten story of the Coolie trade (no not the Coolie Riddim, but this is where the word comes from), brought South Asian and East Asian “indentured laborers” to the Americas, as a replacement for the African slave trade. These South Asian and East Asian “indentured laborers” no longer had any means to return to their homeland once they stepped foot onto the Americas. They ended up settling down, marrying outside their ethnic groups due to the small number of available women of their own ethnic background (bachelor societies).

Below is an interview Tessanne Chin did on the Sway in the Mourning show, along with a few videos of Tessanne’s older songs, as well as a couple of documentaries, and a talk on the Coolie Trade.

The Voice Winner Tessanne Chin Sings Live on Sway in the Morning

Shaggy and Tessanne Chin performing “Never Let Go”

Protoje Feat. Tessanne Chin “Someone Like You”

Kees from the band Kes and Tessanne Chin “Loving You”

Third World Feat. Tessanne Chin “By My Side”

Tessanne Chin “Hideaway”

Tessanne Chin “Messanger”

Tessanne Chin “Black Books”

The Slave Trade to Coolie Trade in the U.S.

Coolies: How British Reinvented Slavery (BBC documentary)

Forgotten Faces of the West Indies documentary on Chinese Jamaican community.

“Coolie” Diaspora: From Indentureship to Transnational Communities (an API talk with researchers/authors Gaiutra Bahadur and Kathleen López on their books exploring the history of indentured labor and the experiences of the Asian diaspora in the Caribbean)

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