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Five undiscovered but talented musical acts, five passionate mentors, 10 weeks, R1 million in prizes, an eccentric host, thousands of fans, loads of talent and valuable career and life advice. That’s what the first-ever NXT LVL Show, sponsored by Vodacom and broadcast on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161), delivered.

Despite being at the bottom of the leaderboard for the majority of the show, afro-soul jazz musician Zethembiso Mdletshe won over the fans to be crowned the first-ever NXT LVL winner. After her powerful performance of her debut hit single “Zazi” at the live finale, Euphonik said it was as if she was possessed by something throughout the performance. He commended her for applying all the constructive criticism she’s received since the start to “bring it” for the finale. “I’m telling you now, Lira, Thandeka Mazwai are in trouble! If you carry on like this, the industry has a bright future,” he added.

Euphonik was so right when he said dynamite comes in small packages. Zethe may be small in stature but her voice, presence and now career are huge. He finished off his advice by saying: “You’ve got all our love and support. You’ve had it the hardest in this competition and even if you don’t win this competition, you are the star!”

It should have been no surprise then, when host Denise Zimba announced Zethe as the winner. She took home a brand-new car worth R300 000, R100 000 in cash, studio sessions to the value of R600 000 to lay her new hit single, a music video worth R150 000, a PR and management deal of R225 000 and her own line of Rocka music accessories.

The KwaZulu-Natal-born songstress said she knew what she wanted from the start of the competition. “I wanted to grow and take my musicianship to the next level and that was met beyond measure.” After the show, Zethe posted on Twitter: “Everything I ever prayed for served me in one night. My life will never be the same. Thank you to everyone who voted, you guys are amazing and believed in me … Guys dream those dreams and never, not once, doubt yourself. I can’t wait for 2018. #vodacomnxtlvl”

Fellow contestant Jesse Reignz tweeted: “Congratulations @zethe_m you earned this moment … I love you so much and I can’t wait for the world to see the potential that we all saw in you since the first day on set. #vodacomnxtlvl”

All the contestants thrilled their mentors and the audience with bold, confident and polished performances, and there’s no doubt that each of them has a long and promising career in the music industry.

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