A star was indeed discovered in the person of Danny Strasser-Williams in the keenest music competition ever in the history of Sierra Leone.
The Celtel Star Search, which started a month ago with over 400 contestants all over the country battling to emerge with the best vice in the country, ended over the weekend at the Family Kingdom in Freetown.
“If dreams were horses beggars would ride” and the five contestants in the grand final of the star search competition definitely wanted to ride the music horse which was strapped with Le20 million and the recording of a full album and fame and glory.
But to ride the dream horse was not just a matter of wishing for it, the five contestants had to wake up first and then battle to harness the horse.
That was exactly what they did…
Family Kingdom last Saturday was jammed packed with fans of each of the contestants and when Adrian Lewis, Danny Strasser-Williams, Jane Peters, Joselia Gbondo and Sia Nana Yambasu hit the stage one after the other the crowd was hilarious and at that point it was hard to say who could clearly be the music icon Sierra Leone was looking for.
The five had three rounds to prove they were the best. The first two rounds they mimed songs from other artists. Adrian thrilled the audience with “Dance with my father” originally done by Luther vandaros; Danny mesmerized the audience with “send me an Angel”; Jane Peters metamorphosed into Whitney Houston and tranquilized the audience with “I have Nothing”, Joselia Gbondo did a remix rendition of “Every thing I do” and Sia Yambasu transformed into a nightingale and entranced the audience with “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion.
By the time they went into the second round all the contestants knew that the game had become keener and each of them had to come up with phenomenal innovations to win the day.
By the second round Danny Strasser-Williams began to out shine his competitors, he had quickly learnt how to control the audience and wasted no time to work them to hysteria when he epitomized R Kelly and with strong baritone voice, perfect modulation and professional stage antics he did the song “the storm is over.”
The judges who had been sensitively fair with good comments for each of the contestants after their performance, in unison pointed out that Danny was the best at that stage.
Then it was round three and each of the five had to perform their own original songs they had composed for the competition.
Adrian who always was the first to start in all the rounds did a song he called “It’s
gonna be alright”, the song was like assuring himself that it would be fine-you would win.
Vicky Fornah, one of the judges, said “If that song will be in your album, I will be the first to buy it.”
Danny went second and did his own original, “A star in you”– a sagely song like proclaiming that he was indeed a star. By the time he was in the second verse of his song the whole audience had picked up the chorus and was singing along lustily.
George Boigny, one of the judges who had earned the reputation of “mean” with his scathing comments that knocked out hundreds of contestants from the competition, surprisingly stated he was at loss for words.
But when he finally found words he said “by the powers vested in me by Celtel I am sentencing you to victory.”
Vicky Fornah said bluntly, “you have won the competition.” Naye Sackey also endorsed him.
Jane Peters featured next, dressed up in Jamaican colours. She did her original song “Go On” with the accompaniment of an electric guitar which she played herself.
This stunned the audience; Vicky said she did not know of any woman in Sierra Leone who could do what she just did.
Naye pointed out that they were looking for voice but that Jane had taken everything to another dimension.
George said he was stuck with wonder and he suddenly realized that Sierra Leone was not only rich in minerals but also in human resources.
Next was Joselia Gbondo, who very well knew the art of entertainment. She did her own original “Take my hands”. She came on stage in a short skirt worn as if it was an after thought of one who had wanted to get on stage naked. She sent shivers in the spine of the males and worried looks in the eyes of females, but it was a teasing and thrilling performance which everybody said actually determined the outcome of her result.
George was very frank after her performance and said “there are certain cases in court that make the judge sweat and this is one of them, you are just too wicked.”
Naye said Joselia knew how to compete and that anytime she came up on stage she upped her performance.
The last to perform was Sia Yambasu who did her original “It’s you”- a gospel. With a soothing and emotional voice, with some tears thrown in, she kept the audience in rapt silence which ended together with her song in a thunderous ovation, the youngest competitor an SS 2 student from Bo had proved her mettle in the music world.
The judges said she was the most improved person in the competition.
Then the agonizing period of waiting came, the time for the audience’s votes which was 50 percent and the judges marked another 50% were computed for the final results.
Celtel was wise to get Vamboi, the celebrated comedian, Jungle Leaders and the Iconic Emerson Bockarie of “Tu tu party” fame to calm down the nerves of both the audience and contestants.
After about an hour the results were finally out, Nancy Bangura and Abu Bakarr Kanu, the MCs that had professionally took the competition from the start to that point started announcing, the 5th position…
It was Joselia Gbondo and she was give a million Leones check, the 4th went to Adrian Lewis who got 2 million Leones, the third position was earned by Sia Yambasu with 5 million Leones, the second position went to Jane Peters with 10 million Leones and the 1st position was clinched by Danny Williams together with 20 million Leones.
Celtel’s Managing Director, Ted Sauti-Phiri, said he was pleased with the competition and was happy to help Sierra Leoneans realize their dreams.
He praised all the contestants for their wonderful performances and assured that Celtel would continue to make life better for everyone. By Mohamed Fofanah