‘MY BELLY BLESSED!’ Dalton Harris’ mother says her piece
Sylvia Campbell, the mother of rising musical superstar, Dalton Harris. (Photos: Reginald Allen)
When one meets 52-year-old Sylvia Campbell, the mother of 24-year-old X Factor finalist Dalton Harris, one is immediately struck at how assured and good looking she is for her age.
One can readily see that she was a heart-breaker in her more youthful days, and still is potentially today.
The red braids and arched eyebrows are clear indicators that she can still turn heads.
But heart-breaker or not, these days, the worry lines are beginning to show on Campbell. Since last week, after an irresponsible blogger concocted a story that her house had been torched in a fire because of rumours that Harris is gay, she has been propelled - reluctantly - into the spotlight. She responded by lambasting her son during an interview with a blogger, as she sought to defend her honour.
Now, days removed from the initial fear and anger that gripped her in those turbulent days, she wants to set the record straight.
"I love my son," she told Loop News reporter Claude Mills in a face-to-face interview at her still intact home in Sanguinetti district in North West Clarendon.
Dalton Harris (file photo)
"But it seems say Dalton believe say mi do him something terrible fi him ah tell everyone say mi abuse him. I don't know what it is. Yes, (as a child) 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.
“But when he went on the X Factor and said that my eldest daughter was like a mother to him, it made me look like a careless mother. It mek people ask: 'What kinda careless mother she is for Dalton's oldest sister to have to be there for him like a mother?" she outlined.
Dalton Harris’ eldest sister is Malina Campbell, who migrated to the United States at the age of 15.
"She left Jamaica when she was 15, and Dalton was (then) eight. What kind of mother could she have been to Dalton (before then)?” asked Sylvia Campbell.
“I fought for all my seven children. No man could lick none of my pickney dem. I was very protective of all of them. I was poor, but I tried. I did domestic work and I got nuff help from my friends," stated Sylvia Campbell.
Her oldest child is 31, and the youngest is 11-year-old Toby-Ann. Sylvia Campbell said she grew up in Sanguinetti, which is 1.6 kilometres outside the town of Spaldings, and has lived there all her life.
Despite the brouhaha, insinuations of abuse and some harsh words both ways, she believes that the issues between her and her son will be resolved soon. But if not, definitely sometime in the future.
She admitted that the last time they shared a conversation was in October before the X Factor show began its run in the United Kingdom. She said the conversation was amicable, but they have not spoken since.
She said she is bewildered as to why he appears to be slighting his mother, especially in the public eye.
Dalton Harris' mom speaks
"I am proud of my son, to see how far him reach. He is the third star from the Sanguinetti area. Omar McLeod, Warrior King and now Dalton. But something - maybe fame - or someone, turn him mind from me and ah influence him not to like me. Since they started the rumours that mi house burn down, I am afraid. If a dog bark, mi get up and look through the window... Mi see fire inna mi head... Mi caan sleep," outline Sylvia Campbell.
There has also been fallout from the rumours swirling about Dalton's sexuality. The mother revealed that her 16-year-old son who attends Knox College has been teased mercilessly that his superstar brother is gay.
Sylvia Campbell went back in history to defend her son’s sexuality.
"I know that Dalton is not gay. Mi did have to stand up strong pon mi foot to ensure him no breed nobody. Mi never want no gal pickney come a mi yard fi tell me say dem having children for Dalton before he was old enough. I didn't want that for my daughters, and I did not want it for him,” said Sylvia Campbell.
She recalled having to repeatedly go to Edwin Allen High School when Dalton attended the institution, “because ah him and people gal pickney down deh, so mi nuh inna nuh argument about him being gay.”
But she said the realities for the remainder of her family are not very comfortable at present.
”My son who attends Knox is not too friendly, but he is well disciplined. Him just ah ignore the teasing and the bullying. Dalton don't have to come back to Jamaica, and him have bodyguard. We are here (all exposed) by ourselves," said the mother.
She thanked her friends ‘Freida’ and ‘Moveta’, who played instrumental roles in helping her with her relatively large brood of kids. Moveta eventually took care of two of her daughters, including the eldest, by taking them to the USA to live with her.
"It was tough, but not that hard as some people are thinking now. Freida helped me a lot. She never tell me ‘no’ yet. She ah mi good-up friend, mi good-up girl. She was like a mommy to all my kids, (and) I didn't get much help from the fathers of the children," she said.
Campbell said Dennis Harris, the father of three of her children, including Dalton, was a subsistence farmer who sometimes moonlighted as a security guard and on other odd jobs.
"He was there physically sometimes, but financially, he didn't have much. But my friend Moveta send down stuff all the while for me, money through Western Union and all TV through Fedex. She was very good to me. Yes, we were in poverty, but we were well put together,” she said of herself and her children.
“I made sure all of them attended school straight through. Nobody caan look at my children and say, 'Jesus, dem look awful'. I tried my best. I am sorry that I hurt him that much (emotionally), but mi just don't understand this," she said.
She shared photographs of her children in their more youthful days, and even a Digicel Rising Stars card from Dalton with a ‘love note’ on the back, representative of the glory days back then. And she stressed that despite the fact that he had moved out of her home to live with other relatives in a nearby district at about age 16, they were in touch over the years, despite having periodic differences.
Her main bone of contention now is that her superstar son seems to be either ashamed or dismissive of her role as a mother.
"Why him caan big up his mother? I heard him say one time, 'hey mama, I made it' on the X Factor, but it sounded so fake. He is giving bad mind people things to say about me, and they are rejoicing say ‘poor Sylvia and her son not dealing’.
“Him and him sister team up against me; she against me bad, it deep. Why him can't come out and tell the bloggers dem to ‘leave my mother alone',” asked Campbell.
She said she knows that Dalton will emerge as the winner of this weekend's face-off in the UK, and wished him well with a note for reference.
"He is a star, but me ah the first star. (Him) ah my production. Ah me lay the first block. Ah my belly blessed!" declared Sylvia Campbell.