Recording contract awaits E-Wallet winner: Malawi talent contest

The 2012 E-Wallet Talent Show winner will be offered a contract to record an album that will be managed by an undisclosed local artists’ management company, apart from the K0.5 million grand prize, organisers have said.

This was revealed on the sidelines of the official launch of the country’s rebranded musical talent search show which took place Saturday night at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.

According to E-Wallet Talent Show organising chairperson, Felix Njawala, it will be the lucky winner-takes-all as runners-up will not receive anything at the end of the competition.

Moment of tears, one of the contestants (in blue) with the host Tafadzwa Kanjira

“The prize is K500,000 and the winner will also be given a recording contract to produce an album. There are a number of companies that have offered to promote the artist,” revealed Njawala in an interview with Nyasa Times, further disclosing that the winner will also be given shopping vouchers from L. Devraj clothing shop.

Previously known as Pop Idols but rebranded to E-Wallet Talent Show, Malawian version of  Britain’s Got Talent,  the competition started on a high note as people from the capital city came out in fairly large numbers to witness the unveiling of the much-anticipated show.

The 2012 E-Wallet Talent Show kicked off with both remarkable and second-rate performances from the 26 contestants, drawn from the country’s major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu, including singers, rappers, dancers and a beatboxer who was a marvel to watch during the night.

Hosted by Capital FM’s Chrissie Tafadzwa Kanjira, the show started at 8:35pm with a performance by ethno-urban group Fikisa, who did a couple of songs from their self-titled debut album, among them Ademwiche (popularly known as Akamwile), Dodomado, Walume Wawiwu and Balaka.

Mainly identified through their numbers, which start with EW, the participants took the stage just after Fikisa’s performance with a jointly performed song that wowed the patrons, promising them nothing but the best during the night and throughout the competition. They were given different instrumentals to perform with.

With a judging panel of three – seasoned producers Marvin Hanke and Dumisani Mfune as well as Malawi’s very own Afro-Pop singer Angela Mizinga aka Tigris, the night was full of mixed reactions, packed with ecstasy, tears, jeers and boos. One contestant was disqualified due to indiscipline as he was caught drunk.

“We know the audience might be surprised as to why we let you in to this stage with such a poor performance.” Such were some of the comments from the judges, who were at times booed by the audience during the three-hour show. “This is one of the best performances we have witnessed tonight, we would love to see you next week.”

In the next show, to be held at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre on 20 October, 10 contestants will be evicted based on their first performances on Saturday and the remaining 15 will proceed to the next show, to take place in Lilongwe the following week.

According to the organisers, the opening show will start showing state broadcaster MBC TV this Tuesday at 9:00pm for public voting.

“Viewers have to vote for their favourite contestants to keep them in the competition and what they have to do is send the contestant’s number to 50505, both Airtel and TNM subscribers,” said Njawala.

One of the patrons, Linda Chiyani, who also participated in the 2006 competition in which she finished on fourth position, described the opening show as “fantastic”, but was quick to observe that some songs were tough for other contestants.

“It is a huge challenge when it comes to performing songs chosen for you,” she said, while pointing out that apart from choosing songs for them, the contestants should be given a chance to select a song for themselves.

She also asked the organisers to bring in a dance judge, as all the three judges in the first show were musicians and “it was unfair to the dancers to be judged by someone who is not a dance judge”.

Another patron, Humphreys Mwaungulu, concurred with Chiyani on the selection of songs for the contestants, saying he was disappointed. He said “the organisers should review such decision.”

Mwaungulu further noted that the judges were biased towards some contestants. But in a separate interview, Hanke said the public had a right different opinions.

“We will always have different views from the public. Others will say we did good and others not, and if you have such different views, it simply means you’re not biased.”

The 2012 E-Wallet Talent Music Show is expected to wind up at the end of December and the ultimate prize money will come from a Zimbabwean company Revive Beverages, which is expected to launch their juice in Malawi soon. Other sponsors are The Weekend Times, National Bus Company and MBC.

E-Wallet judges Marvin Hanke, Tigris and Dumisani Mfune
Part of the audience expressing their satisfaction with the performances
Fikisa in action at the E-Wallet launch
The youngest contestant, 13-year-old Tawonga was one of the performers who wowed the audience

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