Reality TV Shows, MTN Project Fame And Young Acts’ Quest To Stardom
BY TAIWO OKANLAWON
When music reality TV shows hit the Nigerian entertainment scene, it was welcomed with open hands. The shows have no doubt contributed immensely to helping young talented and bright Nigerian music acts climb easily to stardom in an environment known to be colonised by very few artists.
After emerging as the winner from the competitions, there is usually much expectations from fans as many believed they will remain in the limelight considering the presumed rigorous process of their emergence as stars. It is believed they will make a great number of hits and award winning songs and a few sure did, at least in the beginning until the stars began to fade in the sky.
The shows to pick from are numerous; MTN Project Fame, Nigerian Idol, Nigeria’s Got Talent, Peak Talent Hunt, X-Factor, Dance234, Roc da Mic, AMBO, etc, that graced our national television to those managed to raise few naira notes for the organizers, upcoming Acts are meant to see that the road to stardom is never easy. The contestants from relative obscurity are foisted upon us and we sit to watch their faces every evening out of sympathy or passion, some Nigerians even chip in few votes hoping their beloved carries the ultimate prize of stardom. Some of their fellow finalists in the same competitions have gone on to establish fledgling careers despite not coming tops. These include Omawumi, Darey, Praiz and Ebuka Obi-Uchendu are a couple of examples.
Only few winners like Iyanya, Omawunmi,Chidinma, Yemi Alade, Timi Dakolo and OC Ukeje blown properly and have written their names in gold after emerging winners, other front-runners have been grappling with the prospect of finding their feet on the music landscape. What could be wrong with their careers will need deep retrospect, maybe they were never designed to be stars, only twinkles.
One of such show that has produced both fading and faded stars is MTN Project Fame West Africa, which started in 2008. The show has produced some of the biggest and brightest Nigerian musicians, while some winners have also disappeared under the radar just as swiftly as they popped up.
This write up takes a deep look at MTN PROJECT FAME ACADEMY’s toplists and what they have been able to achieve since emerging winners. While it also talks about other finalists and their achievement despite not coming tops.
Iyanya Mbuk was the winner of the maiden edition of Project Fame. He beat top contenders, Nii and Stupid Song crooner, Praiz to clinch the highly coveted title. He set a precedence, morphing into a pop superstar after singing ‘Kukere’ – 2012’s pop anthem that catch on like wildfire.
Although, the year after winning the competition was a bit tough for the Cross Rivers born artiste but he was able to find his feet with the release of his second album after he signed with Triple MG record label.
Currently, Iyanya is a mega star and one of the hottest artistes in Nigeria with many songs enjoying air waves.
In September 2009, Mike Anyasodo, now called iMike, the winner of Project Fame Season 2, bagged the first prize of N2.5mm, a 2010 Rav 4 and a recording contract. But nobody listen to his music ever since, neither the change of stage name nor an endorsement deal from MTN could prop up his shadowy career, which fizzled out with the lacklustre sibilance of a damp firecracker.
In 2010, iMike recorded a song with award winning producer Cobams Asuquo featured Illbliss titled fine fine lady, a song from his debut studio album. The video was shot by Clarence Peters. He won the award at the SMVA for best RnB Video.
Mike has been struggling to stay in the limelight. He dropped a few singles but not much has been heard from him lately.
The petite singer rose to stardom after winning the 3rd edition of Project Fame West Africa. She released her debut album in 2010 and has done collaborations with some of the music industry’s biggest acts including M.I, Wizkid, Flavour, Sound Sultan and Olamide among others.
The 24-year-old topped the chart with her single Kedike and performed at some of the biggest events and concerts in Nigeria. She has received a number of local and international awards and is in high demand to lend her soothing vocals on top albums making waves in the country.
In 2011Monica Ogah,won the Project Fame season 4. The Makurdi born singer with a voice like an angel dazzled audiences during the singing competition. What stood her out during the competition was her versatility and stagecraft.
Despite dropping out of nursing school and releasing a string of collaborations with highlife acts Harrysong and Wizboyy, only a nomination in the Best Vocal Performance category of The Headies has come her way.
However, having released her debut studio album in August 2013, which featured Wizboyy and Chidinma. She has been quite unlucky as she has not gotten a hits song since the competition as she is still struggling to find her feet.
Ayoola has been on a very lowkey since winning the Project Fame fifth edition. The Kano born soul singer has been dropping a few singles including his debut track since winning the competition, the Legendury Beats-produced “Amin” which also features ace lyricist, Vector and later dropped a collaborative effort with Igbo rap star, Phyno called ‘Ochanya’ with an accompanying video.
The bearded Afropop artiste made a name for himself when he performed some of Fela’s songs at the competition.This made him gain the viewer’s confidence and he eventually emerged the winner.
Ayo’s talent cannot be doubted,but he is yet to make a hit song from his immense talent as he is slowly fading away from the entertainment scene.
Olawale Ayodele Ojo was another winner who emerged from the 6th edition of Project Fame. The fast rising act released his debut album titled ‘Almost Famous’ featuring some of the biggest names in the Nigerian music scene, artists like Lil Kesh, Skales and Tiwa Savage.
Olawale’s ability to switch from one music genre to another perhaps is the reason for winning Season 6 of the music Reality TV Show. After the competition, he dropped a couple of singles like Jupa, Is nothing and eventually released an album titled Almost Famous. After the release of the album, nothing has been heard of him again. We stopped hearing his music on our airwaves and he stopped headlining shows.
After winning Project Fame in September 2014, Geoffrey spent the next few months performing at high profile events, establishing a presence in the real world and recording music. In 2015, Geoffrey debuted his single, ‘Bursting My Brain’ which was well received by fans and critics alike. He followed this with another single titled ‘Monalisa’.
A year after emerging winner of one of Nigeria’s most promising music talent platforms, Geoffery is still testing out the waters and trying to carve a niche for himself.
Akoh is the most recent winner of Project Fame West Africa. The Sound Engineering graduate beat 5 other finalists to emerge the winner of the 8th season of the reality show with heart melting vocals and a smile that charmed the hearts of many.
Jeffrey is a budding artiste and Nigerians patiently await to see what impact his emergence will create in the Nigerian music arena.
Praise Ugbede Adejo first had his big break on the Project fame platform as he emerged the second runner-up in season.
He did not relent after coming out of Project Fame Academy, but showed that the race is for the persistent as he knocked the ladies off their feet with his amazing voice, and making most men insecure with his looks.
Praiz is signed to record label X3M, a label which is also home to artistes like Simi and Sammy. He has also worked with well-known artists such as Wizkid, Awilo logomba, Bez, Seyi Shay, Cobhams and a host of others.
In 2014, this Kaduna born singer released his first studio album titled “Rich and Famous” which was warmly received by music lovers worldwide.
This award winning superstar is still in the business of producing hit singles. Early on in the year, he dropped his latest- “Body Hot” featuring Jesse Jags and Ghanaian star Stonebowy.
Praiz also featured in the song ‘That Stupid Song’ by Bez which was the first African video to make a world premiere on Bet 106 and Park.
Praiz has performed alongside R&B veteran singers Brandy and Joe in Nigeria and the UK; He has also performed on the same stage with international stars such as Johnny Gill, Joe, Dru Hill, Billy Ocean, Maxi Priest, Tevin Campbell, and Mafikizolo. He is currently signed to X3M MUSIC.
The video for the single- Rich and Famous, was shot in Cape Town, South Africa; released in December, 2012 and was played heavily on music stations across the continent.
The Governor of Minnesota (USA) recently proclaimed 6th February 2016 as Praiz Adejo Day in recognition of his achievements as a Songwriter, Producer, Singer and philanthropy.
He was quite a sensation in the fifth season of Project Fame. Not only did he catch everyone’s fancy, he also caught the watchful eyes of his new boss- TeeY Mix, a judge on the show who went on to sign him to his record label- Vivace Records.
Natural to his roots, Oyinkanade released indigenous hit singles such as ‘Adura’ and ‘Oyin’; and also did the remix of ‘Adura’ with Olamide. He also worked with Soundcity Vj- VJ Adams on his song titled ‘Ati So Rire’.
Conclusively, these reality television shows have only provided content for the television stations but in terms of fulfilling their promises of turning their young winners into big stars, most of them, especially the music related reality shows, have scored below expectations.
It is widely believed that money spent without investment is a waste. A good number of these winners become millionaires when they are crowned but after a few years of not investing in the talent that made them rich, they go back to square one.
To some extent, the job of the organisers of these shows in pushing the entertainment careers of these young talents comes to a stop after they win instead of being the starting point.
Many have asked if the shows are actually helping the youth or just an organised way to keep the brands in the face of their consumers for for the duration of the competition.
It should be on record that most big music and movie stars like 2face, TY Savage, D’Banj, Asa, Bez, Wizkid, Ice Prince, M.I, Waje, Olamide, Banky W, DavidO and many others never went through any reality show and they are successful.
Their success is as a result of personal hard work. Same goes for other reality ex contestants like, Omawunmi, J’odie, Praiz who were runners up during their various competitions. They worked their way to the top on personal hard work.
On the night of 29th September, Project Fame West Africa Season 9 came to an end after series of talent search auditions across West Africa, weeks of grooming contestants who in turn created a world of unadulterated entertainment with their weekly performances.
Thousands of contestants started the race with lots of expectations but only six made it to the finishing line. They are Okiemute Ighorodje, Elizabeth Emoruwa, Kitay Okotete, Pere Davies, Dapo Arogundade, Winner Egbo. All were announced with their prizes at the Closing Gala show which was held at Ultima studios.
Okiemute Ighorodje, being the winner got N5 Million, a brand new SUV, and a recording contract worth millions of Naira! Music lovers are expecting best from the winners, most especially Okiemute and Elizabeth Emoruwa the 1st runner up.
The question now is that who will remain in the limelight and make a great number of hit and award winning songs among these singers? Or is this the beginning of their end to fade in the sky?
Nevertheless, just as the winners of these various shows need the support of their brand sponsors to be on great music stages round the world, they on their own have to make an honest effort at getting to the top.