Keri Hilson ready to work with Zambian star


US actress, singer and song writer Keri Hilson, who is the official ambassador of the Airtel Trace Music Star Season II, has said she is ready to work with the winner Zambia’s Tiwamyenji Phiri, who is better known as Tiwa.

The grand finale of the competition which drew together contestants from several African countries including Malawi was held in Lagos, Nigeria in June.

The organisers however, withhold the results until the event is aired on Trace channel. The contestants sign contracts not to reveal the results.


The country was represented by Ruth Kulaisi Chikoleka, who pocketed K10 million as the winner during the local grand finale having outclassed four other finalists.

She won the hearts of the judges of musicians Rina, Patience Namadingo and Theo Thomson as well as the audience.

However, she failed to make it to the top during the Pan African contest and could not manage to surpass last year’s representative Sam Mjura Mkandawire’s record of making it to the top six.


The grand finale of the compet i t ion was aired las t weekend and Tiwa emerged the victor with Tanzania’s Melissa John and Madagascar’s Johanna Rakotomavo coming second and third, respectively.

Hilson described the competition as fierce and that all the finalists put up great performances.

“I look forward to working with Tiwa over the next year and to share some of the knowledge and experiences I have acquired in the music industry over the years,” the singer told Trace.

According to Trace, Tiwa studied Public Relations and Advertising under Cambridge International UK and is the first of four children, born to a politician father and her mother a nurse, who all supported her every step in the competition.

Tiwa’s prize includes a record deal with a major label; mentorship for a year with Hilson, for a total value exceeding $500,000, as well as worldwide media exposure through the various Trace platforms.

Her win followed a magnificent rendition of When You Believe, the song from the 1998 DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt, originally recorded by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

According to Trace, with over 2.7 million registered calls this year, the competition is the biggest to take place in Africa and centres on searching for the continent’s newest and most talented star.

Apart from Hilson, some of the judges during the grand finale were Briant Biggs and Fally Ipupa.

Last year’s winner was Mayunga Andrew Nalimi from Tanzania, who was mentored by Season I official ambassador Akon.

During the grand final Mayunga performed his latest release Please Don’t Go Away which features his mentor Akon as well as Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer Patoranking.

Meanwhile Trace Country representative Annie Chisala has described the competition as incredible and hailed Kulaisi Chikoleka for representing Malawi.

“Malawi was represented well giving all the other countries a run for their money. For now we should be looking forward to next year to unearth more of the phenomenal talent we have in the country,” Chisala said.

She also said that for those who missed the airing of the grand finale on Trace channel, they should watch out for broadcast on local channels citing Times Television and Zodiak Broadcasting Station at a date they will confirm.

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