- Sam Mjura Mkandawire aims for Airtel Trace Music crown
After a six-month process that saw hopeful aspirants make more than a million phone calls; the Airtel Trace Music Star competition finally comes to a close tomorrow.
Finalists from the 13 participating countries battle for the $50 000 (about K22 milliion) prize money at the Enashipai Resort and Spa in Naivasha, Kenya with the pan-African winner taking home a recording deal, promotion and mentorship with Akon.
The triumphant musician, who will walk away with all these prizes, will have to garner votes from the public who have been voting via SMS.
The judges, who will be unveiled tomorrow, will also contribute a percentage to the outcome.
Kenya is represented by Benjamin Webi, Shan’l represents Gabon, Sandra Suubi will fly the Ugandan flag while Linda Nawaa wears the Democratic Republic of Congo badge.
From Tanzania, there is Mayunga Nalini, Chad is represented by Lilcy, Linda Goraseh is from Ghana, Burkina Faso is represented by Fluer, Jitey Peters is from Nigeria, Madagascar has Nathy and Bernard Shaluchiso is from Zambia.
Malawi’s hopes lie in 28-year-old Sam Mjura Mkandawire, whose musical prowess is well grounded and cemented in a career that spans over the last decade.
Music has been an intrinsic part of his entire life. His inborn talent is coupled with him coming from a family with deep-rooted music background.
It is safe to say that the minute the velvet voice artist picked up a microphone, a star was born.
While a few people have had the privilege of seeing him perform live, everyone who has heard him sing or play instruments has become part of the growing fanbase that surrounds Mkandawire, with several left wanting more and more of the melt-in-your-mouth singer.
It is therefore, did not come as a surprise when he was crowned the winner of the inaugural Airtel Trace Music Stars finals held in Blantyre last month where he walked home with a K14 million cash prize.
Moving to Kenya, Mkandawire stands on a safer ground. His strength lies in him being a complete musician who fell in love with this art at the age of five.
He has, over the years, grown and amassed a wealth of experience that makes him a complete musician. His vocal chords are strong and he knows how to control his voice. He is a blessed artist who can do anything with his voice apart from having a stage presence.
Having listened to the other contestants, Mkandawire’s competition lies in the two Lindas—Nathy and Fluer.
These two singers can turn the stage into anything with their flair and versatility.
Those who have watched the Ghananian perform Alexander Burke’s Hallelujah will attest to the fact that she can sing.
But in an interview before leaving for Kenya, Mkandawire reiterated his earlier stand—that he is unfazed by the competition.
“I have watched all the other contestants, they are good singers, but I have not seen anyone who is wow,” said the artist, who last week returned from a tour of China with Mafilika Band.
Malawi has always been handicapped when it comes to using voting to determine a winner for regional events.
The trend has cost the country in competitions such as Big Brother Africa and All Africa Music Awards.
Since the competition started, this is the major problem Mjura acknowledges to have faced. He even confessed his worries.
“This competition for me it’s all about the votes and not performance because with the latter, I am home and dry. Other countries stand a better chance of winning because of their population which in this case translates into votes.
“Take Nigeria for instance, a country of 140 million people yet in Malawi we are just about 16 million. But like I said, performance wise, I have a chance so let’s wait and see what God has installed for us,” he explained, adding: “Thank you Malawi for being with me throughout my journey. You have done your part and I will do mine. “
Mkandawire is expected to perform not more than three songs of his choice and he had elected to sing Deitrich Haddon’s Well Done, Sam Smith’s Stay With Me as well as his K14 million winning performance of Beautiful by Mali Music. n