Africa already has one pop star named Tiwa. It may yet get another—this time not from Nigeria or west Africa.
Zambia’s Tiwamyenji Phiri won the 2016 Airtel Trace Music Star competition in early August. As promised by the organisers, she will receive mentorship from an established pop star. This year the selected mentor is the R&B star Keri Hilson.
The event was hosted in Lagos at the Ultima Studios, and was attended by such entertainment personalities as Nigerian rapper Vector and his compatriot, the comedian Chigurl.
To win the finale, Phiri fought off competition from nine other contestants drawn from around the continent. She also needed the approval from the judges Briant ‘BeeHigh’ Biggs, Fally Ipupa and Hilson herself. Together they judged the graduate of Public Relations and Advertising superior to Tanzania’s Melissa John and Madagascar’s Johanna Rakotomavo who emerged first and second runner-ups. Other contestants included representatives from Niger, DRC, Ghana, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria.
Phiri’s win came after her performance of the 1998 song ‘When You Believe’—originally sung by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as a duet from the animated film The Prince of Egypt.
Along with Hilson’s mentorship, Phiri will receive a record deal worth around $500,000. She will also be promoted on the Trace media network. Says Hilson: “I look forward to working with Tiwa over the next year and to share some of the knowledge and experiences I have acquired in the music industry over the years.”