The hope of the creative industry is reposed in discovering and harnessing new talents who will ensure the continuity of the creative business.
It is therefore commendable when media companies, individuals or institutions dedicate their resources to unearthing creative talents.
Citi FM and its new baby, Citi TV, have always shown love for the arts, tourism an entertainment industry through programmes like Decemba 2 Rememba, Music of Ghanaian Origin (MOGO), Heritage Caravan, Accra Music Expo and Expressions.
In 2009 Citi FM decided to go an extra mile by discovering music talents. That was the beginning of Voice Factory, a music reality show to discover talents for the industry. For the three previous seasons, it had artistes like Fritz Hehetror, Melody Wilson, Natasha Odoi emerging as winners of Voice Factory.
The grand finale of the fourth season was held on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at the Fantasy Dome in Accra. It was an event filled with fun, suspense, splendour and class.
After eight episodes of live performances by the contestants, Genevieve Antwi-Nuamah, known in showbiz as Araba, was adjudged winner of the Season 4 of Citi TV’s Voice Factory.
She beat Ayjay Sam, Cleck Boyson and Idara (who placed second, third and fourth positions respectively) for the ultimate prize of GHC 10, 000.
Ayjay Sam who took the second position had GHC 7,000 and other packages from the sponsors: Beta Malt and Woodin.
Cleck Boyson followed with GHc 3,000 – also with items from the sponsors.
Idara, who placed fourth had souvenirs from the sponsors.
Hundreds of wannabe musicians thronged the premises of Citi TV on May 4 and May 5, 2019, to audition for this year’s Voice Factory.
After the auditions, 10 contestants in the persons of Red’M, Idara, KennieKings, Charisma, Araba, Ayjay Sam, Cleck Boyson, Lina, Oye and Debbie were selected for the contest.
These were all talented young people who were bent on charting the path of success to their music career dreams.
The performance episodes
From the beginning (July 13, 2019), it appeared most of the contestants were quite green in music performances. They had the passion and basic talents but they needed a bit of honing for the music market.
With the passage of time, they improved after they had gone through grooming from Nii Quaye and the Musical Lunatics.
Ayajay Sam and Araba appeared to be the most consistent contestants in terms of impressive performances. There were a few times they had bad shows but they were generally the ‘voices’ of the competition – so I was not surprised they finally made it to the top.
If anything did some magic for the Ashaiman ‘Burna Boy’ it was his ‘Charisma’ to triumph over his weaknesses and amplify his strengths.
For someone who has been hustling from the streets in search of a place on the music turf, Charisma proved he was a promising act.
Voice Factory: Charisma does his own rendition of Samini's 'My Own'
On the first live performance edition of the #VoiceFactory, the contestant #Charisma did a cover of #Samini's hit song #MyOwn. If you love Charisma and want to keep him in the Voice Factory, make sure you vote for him via *447*973# on all networks. #Ghana #CitiNewsroom
Posted by Citi TV on Wednesday, July 17, 2019
It was not surprising he had a lot of votes. However, his vocal abilities did not help him. This is Voice Factory – and in all things, one needed to have had the vocal prowess. I wouldn’t be surprised a whit to see Charisma releasing hits and playing bigger gigs. He is a great material for the music market.
Just as the judges mostly re-echoed, Oye should have identified and remained loyal to her strengths. Any time I saw her perform I saw a ‘gospel musician’ who is uncomfortable singing a secular song. No wonder she did well when she performed gospel music.
Cleck Boyson knew what to do to get people’s attention – which is one striking attribute of a showbiz person. He spotted his strengths and focused on them.
One person I tipped for the finals was Lina but unfortunately, she did not make it. I loved her voice texture but she could not make it to the finale. Throughout the competition, one thing that got me glued to her acts was her amazing voice.
Idara’s rise to the top should be added to the number of miracles Jesus performed. I did not expect her to go that far. After she was saved from eviction in the first eviction show, she steadily kept winning the hearts of many. And indeed, the judges have said she’s the most improved.
Red’M had a good voice too but his stagecraft did not help him. It was a bit painful watching him on stage and I think if he wants to pursue music to a high level, he needs to work hard on this.
KennieKing’s eviction was one of my painful moments in the competition. That guy could really sing! But he probably could not garner the needed votes and seemed too comfortable at a point in the competition.
Then, there was one contestant in this year’s Voice Factory whom I describe as that average student in class. She would not fail but wouldn’t score high marks. Debbie! She was talented in her own way but from the outset, it occurred to me it would be difficult for her to make it to the finale.
Sometimes, another way of discovering the true personalities of individuals is to take them out of their comfort zone.
The contestants were taken to Cockpit Bar and Lounge on June 27, 2019, for a karaoke session.
They sang along to their favourite songs and also socialized with each other as well as the general public.
Araba, an intern at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana deservedly won the competition.
From the beginning of the competition, she really proved her mettle and was on top of the lists of many people who made predictions of the winners.
The winner was adjudged after votes by the judges and the general public were collated.
I respect the decision of the judges and the general public. However, if I had the power to choose a winner, I would go for Ayjay Sam.
Ayjay Sam appears to me as a consummate musician. One who doesn’t only have a good voice but commands spellbinding showmanship, artistry and gusto on the stage. In the commercial music space, he is a gold mine!
That notwithstanding, I believe Araba is an exceptional singer and will go places if she takes her music career seriously.
Big surprise at the finale
Anybody who despised him throughout the period may have been shocked to the bone after seeing him perform at the finale.
People either fell in love with Cleck Boyson or hated him for his over-dramatization on stage. He is not the typical singer like Araba or Ayjam Sam who could modulate through chromatics and navigate through different keys but there was a charm about him – and much of that was felt at the finale.
His performance of Ebony’s ‘Hustle’ was epic! The transition from a slow rendition, to the hip hop part, to the original highlife vein, back to the hip hop groove and the entire stagecraft was awesome, to say the least.
I presume what did the magic for him was his choice of songs. He chose songs a lot of people could relate to. With that, it is easy to get the love of the people even if you underperform.
Unfortunately, that is one thing most of these contestants failed to consider. A lot of them would want to take complex and virtually unfamiliar songs that only a few music lovers and critics can technically appreciate.
They forget that apart from the fact that it is a competition, it is also a show and must excite the audience.
Voice Factory was hosted by AJ Sarpong, host of Brunch in the Citi on Citi FM and Hall of Fame on Citi TV and Osei Kwame, co-host of Citi FM’s late afternoon drive, Traffic Avenue.
These two were spectacular throughout the competition – the synergy, the fluidity and the wit.
While AJ Sarpong dazzled with her ebullience, glam and impeccable emceeing skills, Osei Kwame beamed with his thunderous velvety voice and command over the Queen’s Language.
I am sure, in as much as he may have gotten a lot of admirers, he may as well have had more enemies due to the heart-throbbing eviction sessions he hosted. I loved the suspense that came with even though it raised my blood pressure a few times.
Judging the Judges
It takes so much knowledge in a field to be able to assess the works of others who ply the same trade.
Therefore, to have had Gospel musician Edinam Bright-Davies, music producer Kaywa and Richie Mensah, CEO of Lynx Entertainment as judges for the contest was a blessing to the talent show.
Even though rapper EL and Okyeame made a few appearances, the three afore-mentioned people were the regular judges.
Kaywa was the Simon Cowell of Voice Factory. Some people may not like his approach but it is needed in most of these competitions. If you need to be blunt, just do it. And that is what he did! I also admire his sense of humour; it really spiced up the show from the auditions to the grand finale.
Richie was very objective in his assessment. Even though he would try to be a bit diplomatic in his presentations, he appeared to me as the most ‘dangerous’ among the three. He’ll punch in a soft-spoken manner and still achieve his aim.
Edinam Bright-Davies, a gospel musician and broadcaster who has a wealth of experience in music was more or less like the mother of the contestants; the one that usually salved the pain caused by Kaywa’s punches.
However, there were times, in order to perhaps balance the opinions on certain performances, a judge would intentionally pose to disagree with others. It added to the beauty of the show but it also felt a bit phoney and affected on a few occasions.
Performances at the finale
The competition which came in three stages had each contestant performing a song of their choice in the first round.
In the first round, they did songs they chose by themselves. Ayjay Sam started with ‘Nobody Greater’ by Vashawn Mitchell. This was followed by Idara who sang Bob Marley’s ‘Natural Mystic.’
Araba came through with ‘Girl on Fire’ by Alicia Keys and Cleck Boyson came in bustling with Ebony’s ‘Hustle.’
Mr Drew of Highly Spiritual Music fame staged a performance after the first round. For those who did not know about his dancing abilities, he entertained the audience with some electrifying dance moves as he also performed some of his songs.
In the second round, the contestants did a song chosen by the judges. Araba performed ‘Look to You’ by Whitney Houston, Idara did ‘All Over’ by Tiwa Savage, Cleck Boyson took on the apparel of Kwabena Kwabena, sang ‘Meye’ while Ayjay Sam shook the foundations of the Dome with ‘Grenade’ by Bruno Mars.
Fameye of ‘Notin I Get’ fame performed most of his songs after that. In fact, he is one of the hottest artistes in Ghana at the moment but I was not impressed with his performance. I have watched other shows he had performed on different platforms and he was fantastic. I believe that he does better with the live band than miming or performing over his record.
The third round was to test real musicianship of the contestants – that is, performing their own compositions.
In the third round, Cleck Boyson opened with ‘Vibing’ Afropop gospel that is themed on having communication with God.
Idara also did her own song titled ‘African Boy’, while Ayjay Sam mounted the stage exuding much ‘Joy’ in his composition.
Araba performed ‘Love So Real’, a song that highlighted the loving-kindness of God.
After the third round, another Highly Spiritual Music artiste, Krymi also thrilled patrons, making way for ‘Zanku’ hitmakers Dope Nation.
They really rocked the show with their bangers. The climax of their act was when they ‘rap-battled’ with verses on iPhone and Samsung.
Voice Factory 2019 was sponsored by Woodin and Beta Malt.
By: Kwame Dadzie | citinewsroom.com | Ghana