A dynamic range of vocal notes and stage presence, which begged the strongest crowd response, were some of the charms that Sam Mjura Mkandawire used to sweep the judges off their feet. If fashion statements were to matter in this competition, then Sam could have not been the star that he is. The judges said were impressed by his fashion sense and advised him to appear more appealing than he did.
Sam was the only contestant who played an instrument, performing Beautiful by Mali Music on the piano—just spending the right amount of time before heightening the mood by wowing the audience with a sterling performance on the microphone—a performance that earned him a standing ovation.
The Malawi Airtel Trace star outshined the other three contestants to win K14 million (US$31 111) and a passport to compete with 12 contestants from other African countries in Nairobi, Kenya on March 28.
The other three contestants however, did not go without a fight.
Grey Longwe was on point, donning a silver blazer with black accents as he performed Brian McKnight’s Crazy Love. Although he delivered a soulful performance, it was, however, the high notes that were a burden to him on some points during the performance.
Stage fright was written all over Tiyamike Chakhaza’s face as she performed Beautiful by Christina Aguleira. She failed to utilise the stage—being glued to one area throughout her routine and dodging eye contact with the audience. Although the judges described her performance as the sloppiest, she still rejoiced in her fiancés victory.
Vitu Phiri, at 14 years, is the youngest finalist in the competition across Africa. Performing When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars, the starlet displayed great energy, but she became pitchy on the high notes. She could have done better with a youthful vibe something that could resonate with her age. However, her performance was not that bad considering it was her first performance to a live audience.
Supporting the performance was Mizu Band, which also backed the contestants. Mizu Band gave the four contestants a run for their money as Eunice Kadzuwa performed Simply the Best by Tina Turner before being joined by JJ for duet renditions of All of Me by John Legend, R. Kelly’s Gotham City and Suddenly by Lionel Richie.
The three runner-ups each went away with a state of-the-art microphone and a recording deal of one single from a studio of their choice in Malawi.
In an interview, Sam could not contain his excitement, saying his mind has not yet registered that he is K14 million richer and is going to Kenya to represent Malawi.
“I am a Christian, so the first thing is that I will tithe and I will use the rest of the money to advance my music career and my music label, Mind Soul Records. I will also invest some of the money,” said Sam, the son of music legend late Mjura Mkandawire.