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A Singer Called Her Home Country Guyana ‘Poor’ on American TV. Should the Guyanese People Be Upset?

Screenshot of Lisa Punch performing on the ABC show "Rising Star" via YouTube.

Screenshot of Lisa Punch performing on the ABC show “Rising Star” via YouTube.

Singer Lisa Punch‘s success on the ABC show “Rising Star” has not gone unnoticed in her native Guyana. Punch, who recently migrated to the United States with her family, qualified for the second round of the competition after viewers voted for her rendition of Whitney Houston's “How Will I Know” during the premiere episode.

Punch recorded several songs back in Guyana before leaving, and Guyanese have cheered her on from afar. But after she called Guyana “poor” during an interview with the show's judges, some Guyanese have also criticized her on social media for not presenting the country's best face to the world. 

The singer told the judges, “Guyana is a very beautiful country, and it’s also a poor country. The reason we moved to America is because our grandmother wanted a better life for us.”

Guyana, which sits on the northern coast of South America, is indeed home to a beautiful landscape, including tropical rainforests and spectacular waterfalls. The small country struggles with poverty, however, and many of its skilled workers leave to find employment elsewhere.

In light of the flak, others came out in Punch's defense. Andrew Kendall analyzed the burden being placed on Punch by her countrymen and women in the online publication “Insight”: 

As Guyana loses its talented youths to greener pastures because of less than ideal planting ground for some aspects of the arts, are those artists bound to take Guyana’s hopes of being a tourist destination into mind and represent it in a way – sometimes with prevarication – that makes it seem an idyllic paradise? Or as artists do we allow them to share their truth despite how far from the ideal it may be?

Lisa Punch has always been praised for her sincerity and authenticity and one wonders how sincere it would have been for her to pretend her journey to Rising Star had been one without incident. Would we have even liked her more then? As an artist, she can do little else but carve a space for herself in the world by telling her own, personal story.

Videoblogger Anndis Fraser said that Lisa Punch was just being true to reality:


Writer and cultural activist Ruel Johnson praised Punch for persevering through difficult circumstances. “What got her to where she is today is sheer hard work, incredible individual talent, unstinting support from her mother and friends, and belief in her own ability to make it,” he wrote. “Instead of decrying her on the basis of some bullshit, delusional positive patriotism, we should be thanking her for acknowledging us at all when this place as a community of people and laws did nothing special for her.”

On Facebook, engineer Clayton Ashford Davenport Lambert saw nothing wrong with what Punch said. “Guyana is a damm [sic] poor country. We may be rich in resources but because of poor governance we live in poverty and a lot of Guyanese leave for betterment,” he wrote.

Support for Punch and excitement about her appearance on the TV competition was strong on Twitter:

Guyanese artist in Brooklyn Abdullaw felt Punch was just stating the obvious:

Guyanese singer Jackie Hanover pointed out a great irony of some of Punch's critics:

In the end, it seems Punch has more fans than detractors — even President of Guyana Donald Ramoutar wrote on Facebook that Guyana is proud of her. However, some will still likely place “the burden of representation” on her as she advances in the competition. The next episode of “Rising Stars” will be on broadcast on ABC on Sunday, July 6 at 9:00 ET. 

  • Hiranie Ramoutar

    her comments are accurate

  • Guest

    Hell no, we’re the 2nd poorest in the Caribbean and 136th most corrupt country in the world. She was was speaking the truth.
    Just now · Like

    • positivethinker

      Guyana is indeed a poor ass country so those of you who trying to intimidate Lisa you all have it wrong. What she said is exactly the state Guyana in Poor Poor country

  • Trevor G. Samaroo

    Hell no, we’re the 2nd poorest in the Caribbean and 136th most corrupt country in the world. She was was speaking the truth.

  • Nanda Sahadeo

    She is speaking her truth…she came to the US for a better life and has proven that it gets better…everyone knows who she is now!!!And its her talent and hard work that got her there too.Good luck sister..u make me so proud.

  • Gary McPherson

    Keep on going Lisa we in the UK are rooting for you and when you are ready to come to the UK LNC band is waiting to back you Good Luck and God Bless!!!!

  • Arenagal

    Lisa spoke the truth for herself and for thousands of other Guyanese who left their homeland for better prospects abroad. If the government was using all the natural resources in the country to better the citizens’ lives, she would not have had to refer to the country as poor.

  • Loretta

    Lisa is sincere in her answer. GUYANA maybe rich in natural resources but it’s still a very poor country .What do you expect when you have a bunch of misfits running the government.
    You go Lisa.

  • Oral Welshman

    Lisa spoke the truth, we cant fool people you can Google everything, it is a beautiful country with great potential and resources but badly managed for years, just saying.

  • Kevin Jose

    So true… Anndis … People like talk shit, the Truth shall set you free and that’s most valuable in this life… Best Wishes Lisa and thankx Anndis..

  • Royden Aj James

    Ahm Guyana is NOT poor,the resources are there but are not utilized properly.Hence, the country is lacking direction to utilize its resources doesn’t make it ‘POOR’ rather corrupt…

    • Royan Abrams


      • Guest

        Oh so you wanted her to say Guyana is a corrupt country..hmmmJarmia

    • Raynah Morris

      What worse corrupt or poor? Me would tek poor anyday.

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