Prior to March 2005, Timeka Marshall was like any other 16-year-old at the St Joseph High School preparing for the CXC examination. But then GT&T launched its jingle competition and she was encouraged by one of her teachers, Ossie Nedd, himself a singer, to enter the competition.
Nedd had heard her almost Nightingale-like voice and felt she needed some exposure. Nedd, the guitar man, who has been featured in these pages, sat down and pooled resources with Timeka and the two of them came up with the "Cellink plus for all of usâ€¦" jingle that in the end won the competition.
It was at that point the young Timeka's life changed and she feels it will never be the same again. Soon after she won the competition, offers came tumbling in for her to model designers' clothing and to do advertisements for boutiques and other stores.
Small wonder that designers began to clamour to have her wear their clothing. At 5'8" and still growing, Timeka has what you might call "model" good looks. Her even, pale-brown complexion, with nary a spot or pimple is to be envied and it is complimented by long flowing hair that is all her own.
She admits that singing has not been her primary focus since she won the jingle competition. "It has changed, now I am busier doing fashion shows and everyone knows me," she recently told The Scene. But even though she was receiving numerous offers, Timeka said she did not allow any of it to interfere with her preparation for her CXC examinations.
"School is school, I never put aside school. It was five days and everything I did, I did all the modelling on the weekends. In all I just lost about three days of school when I won the competition," she said.
Winning the competition has also helped Timeka to grow mentally and she is no longer camera shy.
But it has not been all positives for her, as with everything in life there have been some negatives.
The biggest negative for her was the reaction her new-found fame received from her peers. While she did not pinpoint exactly what the reactions were or how they unsettled her; the teenager said persons felt that she would allow the sins of the world to consume her.
Maintaining she has a level head, Timeka noted that her mother has been her constant rock, guiding her along the right path. She also has an older sister. And she has received a lot of support from new friends she made since winning the competition. "I made mistakes but they would tell me when I made them and show me how not to make them again," she said.
Timeka's level headedness is evident in her refusal to be drawn into the pageant arena.
Last year, she actually entered the Miss Guyana Talented Teen Pageant but dropped out because of her busy schedule.
It is obvious that Timeka is 'pageant perfect' and she admits that she has been encouraged to enter pageants. But it is not something she plans to do as she does not want to be seen as "Timeka, the pretty girl with a nice body."
She would prefer to focus on her singing career, as she wants to really make it big. She acknowledged that being part of a pageant and winning one, such as Miss Guyana/Universe, could probably give her the platform to launch her singing career. But she prefers not to go down that road.
At present, she is in the process of developing some tracks after which she would write songs. Recording demo tapes which she would attempt to send to international recording companies is high on her list.
So just maybe in another few years Timeka would officially launch her singing career. "I don't mind people saying I am pretty. But I would prefer to hear, 'Timeka, the singer with a beautiful voice who is prettyâ€¦,'" the teenager said.
She has already recorded the "Erh, Erh, Erh" song along with entertainer Kerwin Bollers, Spiderman and Mark and according to her the song has been a hit. They have performed the song at a few functions and wowed the crowds.
She also wants to drop some of the modelling she does but admitted that it is something she has come to love.
"I lose myself when I am on the stage. I really enjoy it. But I would cool it down," she said.
Since leaving school the young woman has entered the University of Guyana where she is studying communication. But she says she is still a bit undecided on her career choice. She initially thought she might like to become a journalist but in the last few months she has been thinking about something in the area of marketing. Given the chance next year, she said she will switch to marketing at the university.
Now that she has passed the jingles crown to Shawn English, the teenager said she is happy that she will no longer be hearing her voice singing the jingle on the airwaves. "One year was enough," she said with a smile. "But it is still all fresh in my mind," she said adding that she will continue to do advertisements.
She feels GT&T has opened doors for her and she plans to keep them open and to open a few of her own.
We at The Scene are sure this is just the beginning for Timeka; she certainly has what it takes to make it big.