Across the globe, talent shows and competitions have proven to be scouting grounds that unearth raw talent which goes on to make it big in the music industry.
From the famous Idols to X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, reality competitions continue to spread to some African countries, giving birth to some of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry.
British group One Direction, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson and South Africa’s Musa Sukwene are all products of reality shows.
While Malawi has no Idols or an adaptation of any of the top class reality competitions, since 2006 the country has had its own show contest to determine the best up and coming singers. Ideally, this talent competition was to serve not only as a form of entertainment, but producers, record label owners and talent scouts could use the platforms as an opportunity to scout for new talent.
While for the past nine years, people have seen talent that has the potential to be transformed from a diamond in the rough to a sparkling gem, that has not been the trend associated with E Wallet, Malawi’s version of Idols.
Penjani Mdumuka won the inaugural edition in 2006 with a promise to take music as a career, her exploits were soon forgotten.
She was even reluctant to respond to a questionnaire when queried about her unfulfilled promise.
“You know I was done with the organisers and, therefore, not in a position to talk about them or the show,” she said in one of the conversations with On the Arts.
The following year, Kenneth Kabwila emerged winner. Pregnant with so much expectations on him, fans expected him to launch his music career straight away.
A few years later, Kabwila left for the US where he has been ever since. He had, of course, given music a go having worked with artists Blasto and Third Eye.
But since the time he left in 2012, Bionix as the artist is now called, has been in the doldrums until last year when it was reported that he was releasing an album tiled Rebirth.
Wakhumbachi Kaluwa won the event in 2012. Although she released a single that gave people hope, she made it known that she had no plans of venturing into music anytime soon as she plans to concentrate on her studies. She is currently studying at the University of Namibia.
Last year’s winner Mcluther Mambala has also been silent on the music scene, but claims he has been active although in the background.
“I am now working on a special music type which is jazz fusing it with blues and classic music. I have my own band which has got talented guys; those who do music while others are studying music. There is Kitson who is in the final year of music at Chanco and he was also in the Chanco has Got Talent competition and I have people from Salvation Army Church. As a band, we have included wind instruments in our band, which is one of the unique features.
“I managed just to release a gospel track titled Akumasule under. I can say I do music on weekends, as I am still schooling. You know you can’t survive with music alone in Malawi. Once on holiday from November, I will have to fix my album. I am making some international links because I am dealing with music which will go places,” he said.