By Steven Odeke
The reality TV music show Tusker Project Fame ends this Sunday after two months. There were 15 contestants, as has been the norm with the past editions, and now we are left with only six contestants who are all vying for cash prize of sh150m and a one-year recording contract with Universal Global studios in South Africa.
The grand finale will be the first in the show’s history to have contestants from all East African countries represented. Daisy (Uganda) Nyambura and Amos/ Josh (Kenya), Hisia (Tanzania), Patrick (Rwanda) and Hope (Burundi) are the finalists this season.
Kenya's Amos and Josh
With the exception of the faculty members and the hosts, the show never had as many changes as expected from the past editions. We still kept the same trio of judges, Kenyan Ian Mbugua, Ugandan Juliana Kanyomozi and Tanzanian Hermis Bariki.
The faculty members brought in Kenyan Principal Eric Wainaina in place of Achieng Abura and Hellen Mtawaki, who had been chastised a lot by viewers in the past editions for not being honest with the contestants’ performances. On the show, we missed that telepathic understanding of hosts Dr. Mitch Egwang and Sheila Mwanyigha.
The latter was replaced by Kenyan radio personality Joey Muthengi, who is beautiful, but was not as exciting and in control of the show as her predecessor. At least the show’s viewers let that be known from the outset.
The surprise visit of American R&B singer Anthony Hamilton to the academy is also one of the highlights of the show and to most Ugandans, that moment our contestant Kojjo attempted to save Bior at the expense of Sitenda had us talking.
But what we must all admit is that this season’s odyssey gave us a more talented bunch of contestants than the previous editions.
Coach Kavutha did not have much work in training vocals and Coach Edu found it easier to teach his students different dance strokes. Judge Hermis admitted thus: “This season has more talented contestants than the previous ones.”
Principal Wainaina’s role as a faculty teacher yielded results that gave the show an unbelievable verve. At times, he was an irritant during his disagreements with the judges, especially Ian, but something contestants seemed to have benefited from him was absolute honesty about their performances, something that had killed the steam of the show in the past editions.
“My favourite faculty member was Principal Wainaina ,” says Ugandan contestant Sitenda Kisakye. “He was cool and made everything seem easy in the academy.” However, there were many wrongs done by faculty members. Many times, they did not select the right songs for the contestants. Kojjo said he wished he had been given his favourite slow songs to perform.
Debates were evoked that contestants should start doing songs of their choices. There were cases of faculty members also delaying to deliver songs with some contestants complaining that it never gave them time to rehearse their songs well.
Ian still took a grim-faced pleasure in pulverising terrible contestants but sometimes he took it too far, which was boring. His take on Bior that he better stuck to “rapping and comedy” was uncalled for. The best music director throughout the show seemed to be Kenyan music producer Victor Seii.
And the worst faculty member was Muthoni ‘The Drummer Queen’, who was brought in for a week. She was disconcerting when she took on Juliana. And Juliana, too, got a bashing from viewers that she seemed not to have an opinion of her own, but seemed to lean towards Ian’s opinions.