It is almost one year now Nigerians and other entertainment lovers were treated to thrills and excitement in the West African version of Idols, a popular reality TV show.

There was the great suspense that hung in the air when Pan Africa Entertainment and MNET toyed with the idea of hosting the show which industry watchers have rated high in terms of audience participation coupled with doubts in the minds of  Freemantle Media, owners of the Idols licensing rights if a recorded version of the show could be achieved and the question whether the Nigeria venue chosen for the event could live up to standards considering the poor infrastructures, epileptic power supply and other inadequacies inherent in the Nigerian entertainment industry.

But on December 1, 2006, MNET' Nigeria Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Joseph Hundah and the General Manger, Mrs.Allison Triegaardt announced to the world that West African Idols would be a reality.

By January 6, 2007, the audition doors at The Ibru Victoria Gardens, Lagos were thrown open by the show's presenter, Michael Olubunmi Adekunle a.k.a Mike Magic and thus started the search for an international singing sensation that would become the first Idol from West Africa.

The show which witnessed contestants from different West African countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo held auditions in Lagos, Calabar, Abuja and Accra, Ghana respectively which produced 80   contestants that were given the nod to proceed to the Planet One Entertainment Venue for the event.

The auditions witnessed a hectic, comic and entertaining scrutiny and selection by the trio of Dede Mabiaku, Abrewa Nana and Dan Foster; the three chosen judges for the event.

The number was later reduced to 24 before the actual voting process that saw 10 contestants which included three male and seven female hopeful singers emerging in the top 10 category that would sing their way to instant stardom within a couple of weeks.

The likes of Timi Dakolo, Omawumi Megbele, Jerrilyn Mulbah, Eric Arubayi, Joy Odiete, Mercy John, Temitayo George, Joan Ekpai, Uche Ume or Omodele Fatoki became instant stars from which the audience and viewers were expected to vote their Idol.

At the end of the exercises which witnessed the contestants performing some of the world's renowned hit songs, including some local traditional numbers, 26 year old, undergraduate at the University of Port Harcourt, Timi Dakolo was voted and announced as well as made history in the West African version of Idols.

He, along with Omawunmi, who took the second position and Uche were signed on to SONY BMG Africa, on a one year deal.

Apart from Timi, whose contract was automatic, the other two were selected based on their outstanding performances.

It is now one year and the question on the lips of all Idols faithfuls are where the Idols contestants are?

A search light was beamed on all 10 participants  to find out what each and every member  has been doing for the past 12 months and here are the findings.

Timi Dakolo: The Youngman from Bayelsa State who obviously showed much promises from the beginning of the show and later became the Idol, had the greatest responsibility from the pack as all his fans have been asking where his album is since he won an international recording contract with SONY BMG. Early this year, news broke about the uncertainty that beclouded his contract when he cried out that he was dropping the microphone to go back to the ivory towers where he was studying….as SONY BMG Africa and Pan African Entertainment were not living up to the promises of the contract. Pan African Entertainment came out to announce that Timi would start recording, four months to the expiration of the contract, leaving many people wondering what time would be used in the production, promotion and marketing of the album. Already, Timi has recorded a single entitled I LOVE YOU, which is yet to be released officially. As at press time, there were no indications that Timi had started recording at a time when his contact would be expired.

On the personal side, Timi had really been involved in a lot of shows like the Kanu Heart Foundation theme song show held last year in Lagos, He was part of the contestants taken to the United Kingdom by Celtel for the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards of which Tuface Idibia was a recipient and has featured in so many functions courtesy of the Bayelsa State Government. He is presently working with football star, John Fashanu in a reality TV football show. No date has been officially announced for the release of his album one year after he put pen to paper.

Timi narrowly escaped death from the hands of militants in the Niger Delta region on New Year day.

Omawunmi: The lawyer turned-musician, who gave a resounding account of her singing abilities, contested closely with Timi Dakolo, the eventual winner of the competition. Known for her impressive stage performance, smooth delivery and tantalizing dance steps, many looked forward to seeing her album out in no time but so many months later, the 24 year-old album is nowhere in sight.

Not being one to sit and wait for the fulfilment of the promises of the record deal with SONY BMG of which she is a beneficiary, Omawunmi has gone on to record two singles which Trends gathered, still has an unknown date of release. The dynamic Omawunmi has kept herself busy with doing musical jingles for telecommunication giant, MTN as well as one for Malta Guinness, a beverage malt drink produced by Guinness Nig. Plc. She also starred in TV talk's show, Moments with Mo.At present, she is stuck with Pan-African Entertainment waiting for the dawn of her highly anticipated album.

 

 

 

 

 

Temitayo: Daughter of Rev. Dele George, the highly respected and adored Founder of Little Saints Orphanage in Palmgroove, Lagos, Temitayo has obviously been one of the most visible Idols top 10 contestants in recent time and the only one to have released a single since the show closed.

The ever smiling singer who hoped to use her singing abilities to support her mother's ministry has performed with one of the world's renowned soul singer, Michael Bolton and top Nigerian acts like D'Banj, Sunny Neji and Sammie Okposo during the Tinapa Business dinner sponsored by Cross River State government in September 2007. She is the only Idols contestant that has a single on air, a love song entitled, In Your Eyes.

She has regularly being consolidating on her performances in the Little Saint's Orphanage's monthly fund raising show, Joy Night. Temitayo was the missing face in the Idols Road Show that took the top 10 contestants through selected states in the country owing to disagreement with the terms of the deal being offered by Elvina Ibru's Twice as Nice, who were handling the management of the upcoming artistes. She opted out and ironically has stayed above board.

 

 

 

 

Mercy: Her deep vocal delivery and towering height made Mercy very noticeable among the 10. The 25 year old contestant who was a staff of one of the telecommunication giants in the country, GLO, went back to her plum job after the competition. But surprisingly, she has been able to wriggle and overcome the challenges in combining her career in the telecommunication industry and the studio to record an eight track album with Orangootan Records. Hopefully, her album may be released within the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jodie: The petite graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, whose eviction shocked so many and made one of the judges to ask Africa if they wanted a mediocre as the idol, has been the least on the news. Jodie suddenly vanished from the scene owing to her heeding the call to serve her fatherland in the one year mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC) meant for every fresh Nigerian graduate. She was posted to Anambra State in the South East part of the country and lost touch with the entertainment industry.

Jodie, who was listed among the favourite to win the competition, has recently completed her service year and has returned to the studio hopefully to record an album.

Eric: The most handsome among the guys who many attributed his good looks as being among the factors that saw him lasting for the while he did, delved into modelling shortly after the curtains were drawn on the Idols show. Eric, who confessed that one of the things he would miss most in the competition was the free food and drink, tried to do some recording but nothing more has been heard from him. He indicated interest in joining the Nigerian motion picture industry otherwise known as Nollywood but Trends could not ascertain if Eric had been lucky in getting some scripts to augment his singing career. So far, nothing has been heard about the 25 year-old Eric musically.

Jerrilyn: Described as the survivor and luckiest contestant among the Top 10, Jerrilyn, the former Liberian refugee and mother of one, is among the beneficiaries of one of the major sponsors of the show, Celtel. The only non-Nigerian that made it to the Top 10 stage in the competition is presently a presenter in Celtel's radio show, Celtel Hit Zone. Though in the studio for a purpose slightly different from what the Idols competition main objective was, it is not clear if Jerrilyn is romancing the microphone well enough to record an album.

Joan: The self confessed Cinderella from a poor home hoping that Idols would give her the opportunity to build a house for her mother is back to her first love, sound engineering. The studio girl has moved up on her career and is at present training with one of Nigerian's wonder producers in the music industry, Cobhams Asuquo,  in his music production outfit, Cobhams Asuquo Music Production (CAMP). She has not started recording any song but is instead concentrating and consolidating her music and sound production skills. Her revelation that she has written a book is yet to be realized in print as neither her album nor book can be found in the public shelf.

Omodele: Who was the first to be voted out from the top 10 stage has gone back to finish her studies at the Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State. No news has emanated from her end.

Uche: Former choir boy, who is of the beneficiaries of the juicy contract with SONY BMG/Pan African Entertainment, may soon join   Temitayo in the league of Idols participants with a song to show for it as he is set to release his debut album.

Uche who was signed on to Orangootan Records by Pan African Entertainment is almost through with his 8 track album entitled: "I am Kumeh." The soft spoken Uche, who did a duet with Jodie on popular demand during the final day of the show, was recently attacked by armed robbers on his way back from the studio and robbed of his laptop computer.

Though he worked with Cobham's Asuquo, Uche said that his album is experimental as his recording label took more creative control of the songs in the album.

 

 

 

 

 

Idols presenter Mike Magic is busy with his Yellow Dogg Production outfit doing entertainment shows, Dede has since relocated to Ghana from where he now operates while Nana is still doing very well on her music production outfit in Ghana. Dan Foster still mesmerises Lagosians with his American-accented voice from the studio of Cool FM where he is a presenter.

Unlike other Idols shows which turns the contestants into instant stars and launch them into full time music, Idols West Africa has not lived up to it's billing when compared with the other Idols competitions where the likes of   Heinz Winkler, Anke Pietrangeli and Karin Kortjé won the three successful local editions of Idols while British hero Will Young won national attention across the UK when he swept the title there.

In America , the show launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks. Clarkson went on to win two Grammy Awards this year for her second album while Jennifer Hudson, who was part of the top 10 in season three of the American Idols, won an  Oscar for her role in the film Dreamgirls; all that were part of the show anywhere in the world were transformed into instant stars after the show.

Trends gathered the reason for the unexpected eventuality witnessed so far was as a result of communication breakdown between the record label, SONY BMG through their representatives, Pan African Entertainment and Twice As Nice Ltd. managers of the artistes which has Elvina Ibru as its CEO.

Industry watchers are of the opinion that what the artistes needed was a voracious, aggressive and result oriented management for the artistes as the Elvina Ibru, who was part of the production of the show, lacked the zeal needed to achieve such feat bearing putting into considerations her comfortable family background.

"What they needed was a manager grounded in the entertainment scene who is hungry to achieve not an already made person," a music pundit who spoke under condition of anonymity indicated.

As the East African edition of the show is about to round up, it is being said that the eventual winner of the show who might not be as good as either Timi, Omanwumi, Jodie, Uche or Temitayo will become more popular than Timi as they (organizers) would ensure that the platform will take the eventual winner to the promised land.

But as it is now, many are asking if the Nigeria factor is part of what has kept the 10 encouraging and promising stars still missing in the Nigerian African and world entertainment scene after being exposed in such a platform like Idols.