Tonya Ahenda named Kenyan winner of Airtel Trace Music Star

Kenya’s top talent battled it out in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Enashipai Spa Resort in Naivasha on 28 May for the honor of representing their country in Africa’s biggest talent search competition, Airtel Trace Music Star.

Kenya ATMS 2016 winner Tonya performs at the finals. Photo:
Kenya ATMS 2016 winner Tonya performs at the finals. Photo:

After weeks of training, the list of competitors was eventually narrowed down to five, with Ivlyn Mutua, Tonya Ahenda, Daniel Osanya, Elvis Kosiso and Ciano Maimba in contention for the top prize of KES 1.5million (nearly $15 000) and a spot at the pan-African finals.

Tonya Ahenda, an accountant born in February 1990, emerged as the winner and will now represent Kenya at the finals, putting her on the world stage for the first time. A music fan from an early age, Tonya has long been honing her singing skills in the shower and in church. She has also already appeared in several TV commercials for top companies and campaigns. For the up-and-coming musician, competing in this year's ATMS has never been about what the audience would think, say or do - but rather about what she herself was ready to do.

While Tonya took the top prize, Elvis Kosiso was named the first runner-up, bagging a cash prize of KES 100 000 ($990) and Ciano Maimba came third, pocketing 50 000 Shillling ($495). The panel of judges comprised of vocal coach Atemi Oyungu, musician and choreographer Kevin Wyre and producer Chris Adwar.

The Kenyan winner will now join recently crowned country winners from Ghana, Nigeria and Gabon, as well as others representing Tanzania, Malawi, DRC, Zambia, Niger and Madagascar, at the grand finale to be held in Lagos on Saturday 11 June. The oversall winner will get a chance to work with American star Keri Hilson as well as a big cash prize, a music video and a record deal to kickstart his or her career. For more details visit the ATMS website.


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