For more than eight weeks, five musical acts under the age of 25 have kept hundreds of thousands of South Africans glued to their screens every Wednesday night. Now, as they are on the brink of stardom, with only two episodes to go, let’s rewind to when they first started to see how they got to this point.
Jason Johnson, better known as Jesse Reignz, is a student from Cape Town who entered the show with hopes of making a difference through his music but needing some guidance to make his plans a reality. He struggled in the first few challenges, and his style didn’t always fit with the tasks, but he has shown his ability to rise above it time and time again. He really shines when all the parts come together, which has seen him claim the top spot on the leaderboard. His breakout performance with mentor Riky Rick won over many fans who can’t wait to hear him on the airwaves.
Hailing from KZN, Thamsanqa Vuyo Thobile Mathonsi, or “Thami” as he is known on the show, started as a “guy who can sing” who wanted to make a career out of his talent. His voice stood out from the beginning, making him one of the frontrunners and favourite among the mentors. But his self-confidence dwindled around the middle of the competition and he felt intimidated by his famous mentors and the guest stars. He lost himself and started to slip down the leaderboard. But before long (and with some help from mentor Danny K) his eye was back on the prize, and his name back on top of the leaderboard (he even owned the stage with his dance moves). DJ Zinhle was glad that he had gained confidence, which saw him win two big challenges in a row.
Another KZN star in the making, Zethembiso Perfect Mdletshe, AKA Zethe, is the dark horse of the competition. She seems to really nail it in the small challenges because of her style, confidence and clear vision of who she is as an artist. However, she spent most of the competition at the bottom of the leaderboard, and despite epic performances (and legions of fans) has yet to win a big challenge. Early on Euphonik told her to stick to a genre that suited her rather than the one she liked listening to and once she did this, she began to shine. She seems to think the judging needs a relook (and some of the mentors might agree). Last week, Euphonik said of the African queen: “The beginning of the show hurt her a lot but, I think, she’s growing better than most of the others.”
As the only group, Music 97 started off proving the old adage that there is strength in numbers. They started off as the act to beat. They worked well (and have been paired in many challenges) with mentors Big Nuz, who once commented that they will “win the competition”, and dominated the leaderboard week after week. However, the other acts started to catch up and their creative differences in some tasks resulted in lacklustre performances. Danny K suggested that the band not rely on lead singer Khanyi to carry them and add some energy. Soon after, pianist Andy Keys stepped into the spotlight, revealing his voice. They’ve shown that they have what it takes to win, can they find their way back to the top and prove Big Nuz right?
Theo.Fill.Us (Theophilus Mohau Seretse) was born in Klipgat, Tshwane. His colourful personality, interesting accent and unique dance moves make him the most entertaining character on the show. The mentors weren’t overly impressed by his vocals, but when he revealed his production skills, everything changed. He has been told on numerous occasions (by mentors and guest artists alike) that he is better suited to being behind the scenes, where he’s even shown experienced producers a trick or two. But when he recently gave a “shout out” to his hometown, he showed that he can create winning hits too. There is no doubt that he has a place in the music industry – but will it be as an artist or a producer?
With Jesse streaks ahead of the rest on the leaderboard, will he take the R1 million prize or will the others catch up? The 10-week journey is almost over and now it’s up to the fans to choose the winner. Voting is open. SMS the name (Jesse / Zethe / Theo / Thami / Music 97) of your chosen constestant to 33575. Voting closes at 10:30 on 6 December. Public votes will contribute 60% to the final result, so it is still anyone’s game. Tune into the live finale, being filmed at the Vodacom World Dome, next Wednesday at 21:30 on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161).