The tussle to get the most attention in the music reality show competitions seems at the moment to be drifting in the direction of TV3.
The success stories of participants from the Mentor shows, as compared to those from Charterhouse’s Stars of the Future contest, tells it all.
After three successive editions, Mentor has been able to produce stars in the making, some of whom have even become household names.
On the other hand, those from Stars of the Future can barely be remembered as those who have dared to release albums seem to have failed to make much of an impact.
Products from Mentor like Cee (Mentor II), Erico (Mentor III), Okurasini Samuel, Andy and Isaac all of Mentor I, are currently very visible on the scene. Their works are enjoying massive air-play.
Cee (real name Cynthia Appiah-Kubi) the talented, budding star has even earned herself eight nominations with her debut album, Osabarima, in the MTN-Ghana Music Awards 2008 organised by Charterhouse.
Same cannot be said for the products of Stars of the Future. Irene, winner of the maiden event in 2006 teamed up with Jane, a finalist to produce an album but that has not gained the desired popularity. So far, nothing has been heard from Justice, winner of last year’s edition.
The question many are asking is: why are the Mentor stars soaring while the Stars of the Future seem to be still tottering especially when during the shows, the Stars of the Future contestants show so much promise and talent.
According to some players in the Ghanaian music industry, the answer is simple: Western style of music which is usually favoured by Stars of the Future is not very viable in Ghana.
The obvious thing then is to turn to the Mentor stars who appeal to the majority of ‘ordinary Ghanaians.’
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bandex Production Centre, Ahmed Banda the man responsible for Isaac, Cee and Erico’s break-through in the industry, says Ghanaians love their kind of music and will not accept anything else, a simple phenomenon that has set his stars on the popularity path.
“Ghanaians are more receptive to good local music with lyrics they can relate to. I saw hidden talents in Cee, Isaac and Erico, that is why I opted for them,” was Ahmed Banda’s response when asked why he had chosen to work with the Mentor stars instead of those from Stars of the Future.
In his view, choosing winners from the competitions should not be limited to their ability to sing Western songs alone or in the Western stlye as has been the situation with Stars of the Future.
“The whole idea of the Stars of the Future programme, I presume, is targeted at producing artistes for the foreign market and definitely not for the local market,” he said.
Asked whether it was an issue of getting good producers for the new artistes, he acknowledged that his outfit was more than willing to take on members of Stars of the Future, “unfortunately considering the market in Ghana, and the fact that I’m a businessman, going the local way for now will be beneficial to me and the musicians as well.”
According to him, “investing in a fledgling artiste could cost as much as GH¢12,000 to GH¢18,000 and when the work is not well received by the public, then one is in big trouble”.
“I am not saying the Stars of the Future winners are not talented. But the point is that, majority of Ghanaians would not even recognise them on the street because their music, much as it sounds good, is not well patronised. It has nothing to do with it being gospel or secular, it is the entire packaging and marketing” was Banda’s response to another argument that the gospel albums were doing better than the secular.
Banda advised that too much concentration should not be on singing in English, since the artistes were now emerging and therefore, should capture the local scene first." After all these years in the industry, the big guns like Kojo Antwi, Daddy Lumba, Ofori Amponsah are all still going local,” he pointed out.
On her part, Juno Abena Turkson, Media/Public Relations Executive of Charterhouse said “the focus is different for both music reality shows. Although we overlap somewhere along the line, in the sense that the two shows seek to offer opportunities to budding musicians, our focus is to go beyond our boundaries. We are aiming for international recognition and we don’t have to be myopic in our thinking.”
When Showbiz posed the question as to whether it wasn’t more appropriate for the young artistes to be firmly rooted in the music industry locally before venturing onto the international scene, she said “when they win, the decision is theirs to go hip hop, R&B or local. The idea is to give them the right pointers.”
She also dismissed the assertion that Stars of the Future was geared towards a certain class of people, explaining that the use of Ghana’s official language, English and some local languages in singing, ensures that Stars of the Future contestants had a high probability of making it on the international scene.
There is no doubt that the initiatives of TV3 and Charterhouse to assist young artistes is a step in the right direction. It is giving them the exposure and the will to succeed in the music industry.
Their success in the industry, however, depends on a large extent to their styles and choice of music. Unfortunately, their fate is hooked to the producers and the reception of Ghanaians to their works.