‘Money or no money, music is my passion’
As simple as it was call, sing and win, but it was not that simple for Ruth Kulaisi to make it in the Airtel Trace Music Star contest as she encountered challenges before she finally found herself in the game.
In Season I she made an attempt to be part of the competition but she ended up not getting the code and so she failed to make it and probably this was not her right time.
And now cometh Season II this year with so much on her lap with a wedding on top of her bill, she decided not to participate.
It had to take her parents’ pressure for her to make a move in the Airtel Trace Music Star Season II and that even way late when the entry period was nearing closure.
Actually the extension of the entry period from March to April was a blessing in disguise for Kulaisi.
“It was my mother who told me to try this time around having failed in Season I but I told her with the wedding it wouldn’t work. I entered late and this also came after I had tried using different phones including my dad’s,” explains Ruth.
Even after she had entered, she did not know her code until later when her number was in the newspaper and that she had done well.
“My number was in the paper and it was actually my mother who saw it and that I had won a T-shirt which I didn’t even go to collect,” said the singer.
The next thing for her was to get a call from Trace telling her that this year’s official mentor US singer Keri Hilson had loved her song and so she went on to inform her fiancé then now husband Noel Chikoleka better known as Phyzix.
It was then that she started campaigning to earn herself votes to be part of the competition before she later made it through to the Top 10 and then Top five and finally declared winner.
Today Ruth is K10 million richer which she never imagined she would win and is set to represent Malawi at the Pan African contest to be held in Nigeria next month.
She triumphed during the grand finale held at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe on May 6, 2016 outclassing four other finalists. She won the hearts of the judges of musicians Patience Namadingo, Rina and Theo Thomson.
The singer said the journey to the top has not been that easy as soon after participating in the Top 10 she had to start preparing for her wedding which came the following weekend.
And ahead of the finale which was on a Friday, she got sick and she lost hope she would participate in the final and come Wednesday she lost her voice.
“It took time for my voice to come back such that I started giving in but my husband pushed me on and for your information the songs which I had prepared to do during the final I dropped them because they demanded a lot and I ended up bringing new songs,” said the Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) employee.
Ruth has a huge mountain to climb, she will have to dig deeper and prepare herself if she has to make history for Malawi.
Season I was all but a testing phase for the country when it was represented by Sam Mjura Mkandawire, who pocketed a huge package of K14 million prize on the local front.
But Mjura Mkandawire, who battled it out with four other contestants locally, including his fiancée before wedding later, failed to come out top.
He came sixth with Tanzania’s Andrew Nalimi triumphing and went on to be mentored by US artist Akon.
Now Malawi has a chance to put things right this time around and make history in the contest as well as show it has what it takes to stand out in the creative world.
But having beaten finalists Triza Chatata and Chisomo Chichi Nteteka also from Lilongwe, Madalitso Fazili from Blantyre who came third pocketing K2 million and Kalista Kalele from Zomba, who got K3 million, does Ruth have all the attributes to star at the Pan African contest?
“Looking at her performances during the Top 10 and then grand finale I think she deserves it. She has what it takes to do better during the Pan African contest; of course it’s tough out there because you need to give out more and so she really has to change her game,” said the former representative.
And this year Niger has joined the race. Apart from Malawi, the other countries participating are Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia.
For now all these countries have identified their best singing talent to run for the title of best African music talent.
“I know it’s tough but I will do all I can to make sure I represent my country well. I am preparing at the moment. I actually don’t want to be anyone but me, I want to pick songs that can be authentic and true to me,” she said.
The singer hinted that she would want to involve every Malawian to be part of the contest and that at the moment she is planning doing jam sessions.
“Apart from practising on different areas, I want through the jam sessions to get different views in terms of song selection and people can even connect with me through my Facebook account. All I want is for them to be part of this journey,” she said.
Ruth, who is part of the praise team at Flood Church said apart from her performance, voting will also be crucial at the Pan African contest hence she still needs more support.
“People can vote many times. They can vote to RU 59911,” she said.
Ruth whose mother hails from Ntcheu and father in Blantyre said she was happy to have won K10 million adding this to her was a bonus.
“I am happy for the money but my main aim in joining the contest was to represent Malawi as I have something to give. As I said money isa bonus and music to me is a passion so I will always sing even without being paid. Money or no money I will continue doing this,” she said.
Ruth said she is in music not by chance as her parents are very musical.
“My parents have been way up in music, singing in the church and so my mother was my first music teacher followed by my dad, who introduced me to mature music by artists such as Ron Kenoly,” she said.
Ruth further said she was priviledged to learn music at high school revealing that she recorded an album As I am in the Secret Place when she was 17 years.
She officially moved to Swaziland in 2007 having completed her studies at Kamuzu Academy in Kasungu and later in 2009 she went to Australia where she was also exposed to music at a Bible school.
Apart from pastoral care which she pursued, Ruth also studied mass communication and nursing before she came back home and later got employed at Zodiak where she hosts, edits and produces programmes.
Trace representative (Malawi) Annie Chisala said she was optimistic that Ruth would do well at the Pan African contest likewise Airtel Malawi Chief Executive Charles Kamoto.
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