Thursday, 12 February 2015

MUSIC: Singer fires salvo at Starbrite

ON JANUARY 28 and 29, the finals of Starbrite were held at a popular nightclub in Harare. As usual, promises of “brighter days” were made to the contestants by founder of the competition, Barney Mpariwa, and the mood was electric.
MUSIC: Singer fires salvo at Starbrite
On the surface, Starbrite appears to be what it is said to be by Mpariwa and his team — stories of false promises are dismissed as the work of “haters”.

However, The Sunday Mail Leisure came face-to-face with a victim of Starbrite’s dark side: 2012 contestant Amanda Manyowa says despite coming second in the competition organisers are still to fulfil their promises to her.

Having been promised an iPad, an Android phone, a trip to Victoria Falls, a trip to South Africa for mentorship, and a recording contract with one of the best studios in the country, Tuku Music, the young vocalist was naturally ecstatic.

Two years have lapsed and the trips to South Africa and Victoria Falls, and the recording contract remain a pipe dream.

She only got the iPad and a G-tide phone — gadgets which do not really mean much to a singer in search of a career.

Sensing that she was sold a dummy, Amanda took matters into her own hands by seeking employment from artistes like Tina Watyoka, Cynthia Mare and Cindy Munyavi, to name just a few.

Her determination to succeed also led her to showcase her talent on other platforms as well and in 2013, she represented the country at Umoja in South Africa.

She even hit the studio with her own resources and is promising music lovers a six-track album this March.

The title track, “Rudo Rwako”, will be released as a single on February 14 and could announce the arrival of a new diva.

In an interview last week, Amanda related some of the obstacles she has conquered in her musical journey.

“I started music in 2010 when I entered Daughters of Africa, but the competition organisers said I was too young to travel since I was still in primary school and the winners were required to travel to various European countries,” said Amanda.

She quit music for a while and then entered Starbrite with hopes of becoming a star.

“The reason why I entered Starbrite was because I saw it as an opportunity to showcase my talent and probably get a recording contract as well,” she said.

She was excited when she came second as her dream of recording at a studio of repute as well as rubbing shoulders with the continent’s elite seemed within grasp.

“After the show, I only got an iPad and a G-tide, but I didn’t get my recording contract with Tuku and I also couldn’t go for my mentorship programme as I was informed that Judith Sephuma and Hugh Masekela were busy,” said Amanda.

Through force of personality and determination, Amanda convinced Dorothy Masuka, aka Aunty Dot, who was recently in Harare for the Starbrite finals, to invite her to South Africa.

“When Dorothy came she was focusing on Starbrite but I managed to talk her into giving me some tips and she ended up inviting me to South Africa,” said Amanda. “I will be travelling to South Africa in March to record a song with Auntie Dot and I will also be joining her birthday tour.”

Amanda said despite all the disappointments, she still believes Starbrite played a crucial part in shaping her career.

“Even if I may feel like I was cheated somehow, I still think Starbrite gave me my first real platform to show that I am better than most artistes out there.”

She said that she was running her musical affairs with the help of her father, Cleo Manyowa, who also happens to be an artiste.

“My father has been helping me push my music. Through hard work I have completed my album which I guarantee will be a masterpiece.”

When confronted with Amanda’s allegations, Mpariwa dismissed them as cheap talk, saying the programme was there “to give talented artistes an opportunity”.

“Success after the show is determined by the individual on his/her own,” said Mpariwa.

“Starbrite is there to give people opportunities – whether they succeed or not is not our problem. It is not our responsibility to push the artistes after the show. It’s like going to school; you cannot guarantee the success of a student.”

He said all winners received all the prizes they were supposed to get, and Amanda might have misunderstood some of the terms clearly.

“We want to assist in every possible way, but our funding is not sufficient. What you should understand is that we are doing the best we can,” Mpariwa said.

A date for the screening of the finals of Starbrite on ZBC TV are set to be announced soon after which viewers will be given two weeks to vote for the winner via an SMS platform. Sunda Mail
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