To top six with Sam Mjura Mkandawire in the Airtel Trace Music Star Pan African contest in Season 1, Malawians were hoping that Season II representative Ruth Kulaisi Chikoleka would build on that momentum and make it to the top.
But it was not the case as Ruth found the going tough and was evicted in the first round during the contest held in Lagos, Nigeria in June.
The results of the competition are withheld until the event is aired on Trace and the contestants sign contracts not to reveal the results.
And so the grand finale finally screened on Trace channel over the weekend with Zambian contestant Tiwamyenji Phiri crowned the winner.
According to www. kenyabuzz.com, the continent-wide talent search culminated in a glitzy affair at the Ultima Studios where music, glamour and emotion were the highlight of the event.
US R&B superstar Keri Hilson, Season II official mentor announced Phiri as the winner ahead of Tanzania’s Melissa John and Madagascar’s Johanna Rakotomavo, who were second and third respectively
According to Kenya Buzz, the night offered great talent from the finalists selected from the different countries including Malawi’s Ruth.
But at the end of it all it was Phiri, who shined winning the hearts of the judges of Hilson, Briant Biggs and Fally Ipupa.
It further said that Phiri’s win followed a magnificent rendition of When You Believe, the soundtrack of 1998 DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt, originally recorded by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
Phiri made history for her country becoming the first to win the contest but also the second ever after Tanzanian Mayunga Andrew Nalimi was the first.
While Tanzania’s Mayunga received mentorship from another US star Akon, the Zambian singer’s prize includes a record deal with a major label, mentorship for a year with Hilson (for a total value exceeding $500,000), and worldwide media exposure through the various Trace platforms.
Last year’s winner Mayunga is also said to have debuted his latest single Please Don’t Go Away during the Pan African grand finale.
The song features Akon as well as Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer Patoranking.
Ruth triumphed during the local finale on May 6 outclassing four other finalists after winning the hearts of the judges of musicians Patience Namadingo, Rina and Theo Thomson.
As a winner, she went away with K10 million.
On her arrival from the Pan African contest, Ruth said she was happy to have represented the country adding that she tried her best.
“I tried my best and I am happy to have represented the country. I have passion for music and I am in music not by chance. There were some things which I thought needed to be done well otherwise I felt they were unfair on my side. I know people wanted the best from me and I tried,” said Ruth.
She went on to say that she will be on her toes to make sure that she imparts the knowledge learnt during the Pan African contest to fellow artists.
MultiChoice Malawi Sales and Marketing Manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda, who watched the event on Trace said as a country we are far behind and that we need to do more if we are to excel in the competition.
“Our representative was not good. She was the last and was eliminated in the first stage. We actually don’t get many contestants participating. We have a lot of talent and there is a need to make the entry point easy,” said Nyirenda.
Season II saw the organisers in the country extending the entry period to allow for more contestants to participate and according to Airtel Malawi Brands and Communications Manager, Isabel Kachinjika, this year they received an overwhelming response.
With contestants asked to call using their mobile phones and sing, Nyirenda observed that the use of the internet in the country is still low.
“The understanding of issues and communication was also the biggest problem. There is need to find people who can simplify the communication and the voting issue is another challenge. Malawians feel they lose money when they vote because it is expensive,” he said.
Samuel Chiwaka also said the country’s representative was way below par and that this was why she was removed in the first round.
“Her performance was too weak and we need to dig really deeper for us to do well in the competition,” said Chiwaka.
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