Organisers of the E-Wallet Talent Show, Malawi’s version of the Pop Music Idols, have promised that the competition, which bounced back in 2012 after a seven-year-break, will be coming again this year.
This was said by E-Wallet founder and chairperson, Felix Njawala, on Saturday night during the grand finale at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre where 17-year-old Wakhumbachi Kalua was declared winner and went home with a K0.5 million cheque and a record deal sponsored by MultiChoice Malawi.
Said Njawala: “It’s been a long journey and tonight we are not only celebrating that the competition is coming to an end, but we are also celebrating the beginning of a new chapter, E-Wallet 2013.”
According to him, this year’s competition will be on the cards soon and said as producers of the show, whose purpose is to unearth Malawian talent in music and dance, they were optimistic that E-Wallet 2013 would be bigger and better.
“We faced tough times in the 2012 competition, mainly in terms of finances but because of passion and the dedicated team we had, we managed to put all things together,” Njawala told Nyasa Times in an interview after the grand finale.
He added: “We are optimistic that the corporate world will this year respond positively and give us the financial muscle to come up with something better. Malawi has the talent and with good money, we can produce a very good show that can even beat other music idols shows.”
Concurring with Njawala was renowned music and drama producer Andy Phiri of Blantyre-based Shooting Star Media and Centre for Development Communication.
While applauding E-Wallet organisers for the job well done with little resources, Phiri said it was pleasing to see that despite lack of resources and the absence of music and arts training institutions, Malawi was still producing good artists.
“We have seen the talent that we had in this competition and if we are able to produce such quality with meagre resources, what type of artists can we produce if we had all the resources necessary?” asked Phiri.
“Malawi has a pool of talented youngsters that can transform the arts industry. All we need to give them is resources and proper training,” he added. “It’s high time that we get serious with the arts and entertainment industry because these can bring a lot of transformation to our country.”
To emerge winner of the E-Wallet Talent Show 2012, Wakhumbachi, fondly known as Wakhu by her followers, beat 11-year-old Tawonga Kanthungo and 29-year-old Guise Pemba, by a margin of 0.3 percent.
According to Public votes plus Judges Votes, as announced by the host of the Saturday show, MBCtv’s Mary Tsegula, Wakhumbachi got top with 42.5 percent of the votes while her closest contender Tawonga had 42.2 percent and Guise got 15.3 percent.
However, there were mixed reactions prior and after Wakhumbachi was declared winner in Njamba Room at Mount Soche Hotel.
Almost over half of the audience was at times heard chanting in favour of the 11-year-old contestant. “Tawonga yemweyo, Tawonga yemweyo” was one of the songs that made the night, apart from those from guest artists that included renowned Afro-Pop singers Maskal and Dan Lu as well as up-and-coming singers Bucci, Vidah as well as Pon G and Weapon.
“The selection system is questionable because Tawonga was definitely the winner of this competition, yes both Wakhumbachi and Guise were good, but Tawonga was the winner,” said one of the patrons Martha Kapito.
A well known musician, who was also in attendance, but refused to be named, said Wakhumbachi deserved to win the competition because she has all it takes to be a singer.
“She has a very beautiful voice, well composed, mature and she is a natural performer. These are the important things that make a good artist,” said the musician.
Before the winner was announced, the three judges, comprising music producers Q. Malewezi, Dumisani Mfune and Marvin Hanke gave their final remarks and according to Malewezi and Mfune, Wakhumbachi was the winner while Hanke settled for Tawonga.
And speaking in separate interviews after the winner was declared; both Tawonga and Guise congratulated Wakhumbachi and said they were not bitter for not winning the competition.
A Form 1 student at Bwaila Secondary School in Lilongwe, Tawonga said: “I am happy to see that she won. The competition was between me and her, but the judges made the right decision.”
The young contestant, who said her dream is to produce albums, added: “I need to build up myself before getting into serious music. I will be recording singles during holidays but I will have to finish school first before I start thinking of producing an album.”
Guise, who is currently pursuing his second Bachelors of Art Degree in Music and working at ABC TV as chief editor had this to say: “Congrats to Wakhumbachi and to all my fans they should know that am not bitter.”
“This is a game where there only has to be one winner. I don’t feel like a loser, I am a winner also because E-Wallet has taken me somewhere. It’s a show that unearths talent and that’s what it has done with me, I have been unearthed,” he said as he added that his ultimate goal is to produce albums.
“I will be releasing my own songs soon and Malawians should expect a lot of surprises,” said Guise, who is also a dancer and film actor.
Tawonga’s mother, Martha Kanthungo, who travelled all the way from Lilongwe to see her daughter through the finals, said to her Tawonga deserved to win the competition.
“She has the talent, unfortunately only one judge [Hanke] saw that in her,” said the mother, who told Nyasa Times her family would give all the support to Tawonga to record an album, “but it has to be Gospel.”
E-Wallet Talent Show started last October with 26 contestants drawn from all the regions of the country and saw contestants being evicted all the way to the finals that had the Top 3.
Some of the evicted contestants include Mick Monyo, Hannah Kadammanja, Eric Matewere, Tiwonge Soko, The Elements Dance Crew, The Floor Steppers and Goma Nyondo.
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