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Naija Sings: The search for Nigeria’s next music stars

The quality and personalities of hopefuls who have been auditioned so far in three different regions have been impressive and semi-finalists have already emerged. Though…

The quality and personalities of hopefuls who have been auditioned so far in three different regions have been impressive and semi-finalists have already emerged.

Though audition began in Lagos, the top 10 regional finals for the Lagos region will not hold until September 9, a few days to the semi-final on September 13, and the commencement of the competition proper.

In all the venues where Naija Sings has auditioned contestants, hopefuls trooped out in their hundreds to slug it out for one of the top ten places in the finals of the second season.

Judges, led by Tosin Martins, looked out for voice quality, voice texture, diction, delivery and looks, qualities that were also part of season one.

The judges took off in their quest for a much more robust and entertaining second season of Naija Sings looking for that spectacular singer who has got the ‘whaoh’ factor, who has the extra qualities lacking in the several hundreds that thronged the venues of auditions.

Auditions have been conducted in Lagos, Benin, Enugu and Port-Harcourt and Kano regions so far but it is only in Benin, Enugu and Port-Harcourt regions that semi-finalists have emerged.

18-year-old Jon Ogar from Benue had won season one’s 100,000 US Dollars offering in addition to a recording contract with Storm 360, M-Net’s partner on the show alongside Nevermachine. Season two’s winner will have the same reward. Jon’s single, ‘Gbedu’, has already hit the airwaves.

Several other talented youths thrilled fans week after week with their beautiful voices, smooth renditions of the lyrics of songs they chose to perform in tandem with the themes in season one. These were Tamara, Tarila, Ovie, Danieluv, Riola, and the Angelic Voices, among others.

Naija Sings is about promises, potentials and ability to deliver M-Net officials say and the quality of hopefuls have been overwhelming.

Three outstanding contestants: Nneka James, Ubido Daniel and Moses Adigwe emerged semi-finalists from the Benin Region setting the ball rolling for an intriguing and tantalizing season two of Naija Sings.

Nneka James sang a Whitney Houston’s number, ‘I love you Lord’, which was adjudged good by the judges and the audience. Tosin Martins, Naija Sings 2 resident judge, thought she’s got potential and has the extraordinary vocal ability Naija Sings is looking for. It was not a surprise that she was voted one of the three semi-finalists from Benin.

Moses Adigwe sang ‘I could do worse cry’, to which the judges and audience echoed their approval. Djinee, another Nigerian music icon and guest judge at the Benin regional finals, note: “Moses, I think your voice texture was better than a lot of vocalists out there. But you have to watch your off-notes.”

Daniel Ubido, the third semi-finalist from Benin, sang ‘Paradise’ by Praise. Though Tosin Martins thought he sounded like a bad copy of a good idea, the other judges thought otherwise; so also the audience judges who said they love him, they love his voice.

Enugu sings

The team moved to Enugu, where they wrapped up the finals with three placements in the semi-finals. Peace Nwokolo, Clever Desire and Amaka Okafor gave stellar performances to justify the judges’ confidence in them. Their choice from the pack of talented Enugu top 10 was not such a difficult task.

Tosin Martins, at the close of the Enugu regional finals, said: “I am happy. I feel justified. Tonight, I saw promise, great potential. Enugu is splendid with talents, and no doubt, it’s been a good show.” Announcing the winners of the region, especially Peace Nwokolo, adjudged to be the best singer among the Enugu top 10, Martins declared: “And God gave us Peace.”

Peace Nwokolo was exceptional. She sang with a very beautiful voice that captivated not only the judges but the audience as well. She sang Beyonce’s ‘His brown eyes’. She was applauded for her control, diction, great enunciation and excellent delivery of the lyrics.

Clever Desire won the heart of the judges and the audience with Lionel Richie’s number, ‘Angel’. Tosin Martins said he was a very clever singer. “You are a very clever singer. You have your diction spot on.” He advised him to work on his vocal ability. For Imohiosen, Clever made a nice choice of music while Ejim scored him good and added that he was in control of the song, handled it perfectly and ended it nicely. Amaka Okafor was the first of the Enugu top 10 to sing at the regional finals. She sang Rihanna’s ‘Unfaithful’, which Tosin Martins felt was fair enough given the way she handled it. “Being the first on stage tonight, I know it’s difficult. But you made it through and I’m proud of you.”

Port Harcourt vibes

The story in Port-Harcourt was not different in terms of quality and talents, what was different was the twist the regional finals produced on Sunday, July 25, as the judges battled to streamline the number of contestants who they thought had all the desired qualities to be on the show to a manageable size of two or three. At the close of business, six of the Port-Harcourt top ten in the regional finals were tied. The trio of Tosin Martins, General Pype, reggae/dancehall act as well as Olusope Adamo of Cool FM Port-Harcourt, all judges at Naija Sings 2 Port-Harcourt finals, had a challenge picking those who had excelled more than the others.

Finally, they settled for four: Boma Tolofari, Daniel Ebitonmor, El-David Esther Najite and Tega Apochi. Beaming with excitement, Martins announced to the pensive Port-Harcourt audience: “Heated! Whaoh! This is probably the toughest. It’s a keen battle. For the first time, four contestants made it through to the semi-final in Lagos. They’ve got the extra. We got top six and had to do a lot to prune the number to four.” He added that dynamism, strength, passion and strong voice gave it to the Port-Harcourt top 4.

Of the four semi-finalists, Boma was the first to mount the stage at the regional top 10. She did Beyonce’s ‘Listen’. Martins felt it was a difficult placement for her as the first contestant on stage. Daniel Ebitonmor sang “You raised me up”, which Martins and his fellow judges thought was good rendition.

El-David Esther Najite raised the stake with her beautiful rendition of Jennifer Hudson’s ‘One night only’ that “whaohed” the judges and the audience.

And Kano too

The cosmopolitan city of Kano played host Saturday and Sunday last week, as hundreds of talented young Nigerians turned up to audition for a spot.

These hopefuls besieged the Royal Tropicana Hotel, venue of the two-day audition, for a place in the Kano top ten regional finals, which held on Monday, August 2.

 Two contestants, Biodun Bello from Ondo State and Jubrin Orteri from Delta State, emerged semi-finalists from the region. Two of the judges, Nigerian rap and hip-hop artiste, 2shot and Kano’s popular radio personality, Hamzy King, were pleased with the selection of the top two. Tosin Martins, Naija Sings 2 resident judge said the contestants have the potentials to go very far in the competition.

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