IT is a Tuesday morning at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo and the place is packed with scores of hopefuls awaiting to audition for a shot at snagging the US$100 000 prize money in a new singing talent competition.
The Zimbabwean leg of the Old Mutual Amazing Voices singing competition is starting in Bulawayo and a medley of doo wop groups, quartets and choirs are all in tow, salivating at the prospect.
“Our group is the Sinc (Sisters in Christ). we went and auditioned. we were nervous, but made it through. We have been together for just a week, although we are singers individually,” Favourite Mkhize, one of the singers with the quartet of 20-something female singers, said.
Bandile Mngoma, the sponsorship and events manager with Old Mutual, says the competition is a pan-African singing talent show competing in the genres of gospel, pop and rhythm and blues.
“It’s a talent search in the sense that it’s pegged at R1,5 million (US$100 000). We started off in Ghana, and then went through to Kenya. Now we are in Zimbabwe and our last stop is South Africa.”
Old Mutual is a 100-year-old company and supporting the initiative makes sense to the organisation. “The countries are selected purely on the basis of where Old Mutual has operations. We want to seed our brand in all those countries. Since we are in partnership with MultiChoice Africa, the ultimate prize is television exposure across various DStv channels such as Maisha Magic, Mzansi Magic and so on,” Mngoma said.
A total of 12 groups will be shortlisted today to fight it out for the three positions apportioned to Zimbabwe at the regional finals.
Among the adjudicators for the Bulawayo leg included Selmor Mtukudzi, an Afro-pop sensation and daughter to the late music icon Oliver Mtukudzi and Takura, an urban music artiste.
“There are three genres of music that we are looking at: gospel, RnB and Afro-pop. It’s personal according to each selector. I will be looking for originality, amazing voice and confidence. We are going to be looking at everything,” Selmor said.
Singing hopefuls will be hoping the process yields the best outcomes for them. Bulawayo, as a renowned cultural capital, hopes that its cream will rise to the notice of the adjudicators. With the likes of seasoned performers, such as Family Voices, auditioning, the stakes are high.