Tonight [Sunday 1 September] the remaining 33 contestants took to the Sun City stage one last time for the most important solo audition of their lives. Success here meant they would get to sing for the all-important Idols fan votes, and one of them would become South Africa’s next Idol!
In the 36 hours since their number was whittled down from 80 to 33, the hopeful singers had been working non-stop with Idols vocal coaches and some of the finest musicians in the land to hone that one perfect performance that would change their lives forever. And this year they also got to work with a very special new Idols Musical Director: multi-award winning producer, composer and performer RJ Benjamin. “I’m really excited to be working with some young, new talent and seeing what growth I can create in these new people,” RJ said.
The list of songs that the prospective Idols would sing for their final audition were carefully compiled by the Idols musical team and the songs were allocated to the contestants in the most random way possible: the song titles were shot out onto the stage in a confetti bomb, foreshadowing that moment months from now when one of them becomes the next South African Idol.
And then, just as they were about to step onto the stage to give their all for the judges, one final surprise: an audience! And not just any audience – this audience comprised some of the most dedicated Idols fans in the country, who had won competitions on 94.7 Highveld Stereo, Gagasi FM, Capricorn FM, 94.5 KFM and Algoa FM to be there, as well as music journalists, some undercover South African music industry insiders and, most intimidating of all, former Idols like Season 8’s Shekhinah Donnell and last year’s runner-up, Melissa Alison. “It’s so nerve-wrecking – imagine singing in front of ex-Idols!” Melissa empathised.
The full concert of all 33 contestants’ performances can be seen on “Idols Extra”, DSTV Channel 199, and the contestants’ reaction to the judges’ comments are available on the official website at www.mnet.co.za/idols.
“What a terrific way to enter the public voting stage,” Gareth Cliff concluded after a long day of performances. Unathi Msengana said it felt like a professional concert that she would have paid over a thousand Rand to see, “but who do we say goodbye to?” she worried. Fortunately, Randall Abrahams already had a good idea … “A couple of people that we’d like to see in the voting phase,” he summed up, “and some people we’d never like to see again.”
All will be revealed in next week’s episode [Sunday, 8 September], when South Africa will finally meet the Top 16 Idols who will compete for their votes over the coming months.
Season 9 of Idols is a co-production between M-Net and Mzansi Magic and is broadcast on both channels every Sunday night at 17:30.