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.
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
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
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
Temitayo: Daughter of
Rev. Dele George, the highly respected and adored Founder of Little Saints
Orphanage in Palmgroove,
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
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
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
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
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 KortjÃ© 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.
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