Rwandan talent contest kicks off with countrywide tour

The sixth edition of the annual Primus Guma Guma Super Star (PGGSS) singing competition is gaining momentum following the unveiling of this year's contestants in March and a recent concert in Rwanda’s northern district of Gicumbi on 14 May.

Jules Sentore and his troupe perform at the PGSS outreach in Gicumbi. Photo:www.newtimes.co.rw
Jules Sentore and his troupe perform at the PGSS outreach in Gicumbi. Photo:www.newtimes.co.rw

The competition, which comes to an end in August when the winners will be crowned, will see 10 musical acts (both solo performers and groups) tour Rwanda to entertain as well as attract fans' votes with a goal of winning the grand prize. Unlike other talent competitions that seek to 'discover' unknown talents, PGGSS brings together already established Rwandan artists to compete against each other with the aim of further promoting their careers. It is one of the many opportunities for Rwandan artists to gain a countrywide fanbase and hopefully even a broad regional appeal.

In the running this year are Jules Sentore, Young Grace, Allioni, Urban BoyzDanny NanoneDanny Vumbi, TBB (a trio of Tino, Bob and Benja) and Gaby Umutare. Bruce Melody, a runner-up in the 2015 edition, and Christopher Muneza will be giving the competition another try in the hope of clinching the grand prize. In 2015 Bruce emerged the second runner-up to winner Knowless Butera, who walked away with the grand prize of 24 million Rwandan Francs (around US$32 000).

Arguably one of the favourites this year is Jules Sentore (full name Rwamiza Jules Bonheur Sentore), who began playing instruments at a young age, starting with the drums and guitar. He soon started learning the traditional guhamiriza dance and kept at it with the aim of preserving and celebrating Rwandan culture. His grandfather taught him to play various instruments, including the Inanga, one of Rwanda's oldest traditional music instruments. Sentore has performed in various countries, including Burundi, Uganda, Congo and Germany. His album Muraho Neza features many of his most-loved songs.

 

Grace Abayizera, better known as Young Grace, is considered the first female rapper in Rwanda. Rapping mainly in local Rwandan dialects, Grace hopes in future to perform in other languages and to collaborate with other East African artists such as Uganda's Sheebah. In this year's PGGSS contest Young Grace will attempt to follow Knowless Butera's example to become the second female artist to win the contest.

 

This year's PGGSS has reduced the number of live shows from 17 to only 8. Joseph Mushyoma, the CEO of organisers East African Promoters, said the changes were made to favour both the organisers and the contestants. "We reduced the number of road shows because the performances were tiring, leaving contestants with less time to rehearse," explained Mushyoma.

The voting process however remains the same, with 20% of the votes coming from the public via sms and 80% from the jury. This year's sixth edition sees Lion Manzi, Aimable Twahirwa and Clementine Uwitonze return as judges. Fans can vote once a day for their favourite artists. Voting began on 14 May and continues till 12 August, the day before the grand finale in Kigali.

Anita Pendo and MC Buryohe will be the hosts for the tour, which on Saturday 21 May moves to the western district of Karongi. The full schedule of the countrywide PGGSS tour is as follows: 

  • 14 May: Gicumbi (Northern Province)
  • 21 May: Karongi (Western Province)
  • 4 June:  Nyamirambo (Kigali)
  • 18 June: Ngoma (Eastern Province)
  • 2 July: Huye (Southern Province)
  • 6 July: Musanze (Northern Province)
  • 30 July: Rubavu (Western Province)
  • 13 August: Kigali (Grand Finale)

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