Johannesburg – Now that he’s won, the Idols winner Vincent Bones – a former homeless street kid roaming for discarded left-overs in the streets of Sunnyside, Pretoria – just wants to buy a home for his family.
In a resurgent season which lured 24,3m votes Vincent Bones (30) from Pietermaritzburg won the popular vote when he was announced the winner on Sunday night in the 10th season's live finale of Idols on M-Net (DStv 101) and Mzansi Mzansi Magic (DStv 161).
The worship leader's touching back story – he eventually managed to escape a life as a homeless street kid which he became after the death of his mother and uncle – as well as his powerful soulful singing, proved an irresistible draw to viewers who week after week voted to keep him in the reality show competition.
"Sleeping in the streets is scary at first. It's a challenge you get used to," he said. Luckily he was put into Boys Town, finished his schooling and changed his life. "I believe what I went through in life, is enough to carry my character," he said about entering Idols.
Bones who can play piano, drums, base and saxophone came to national viewer attention in the second episode of the historic 10th Idols season – the first time he auditioned as a contestant for a TV show.
On Sunday night he triumphed in front of the crowd at the Carnival City arena and viewers watching the live finale at home, garnering more votes than Bongi Silinda (24) from Nelspruit.
(Vincent and Bongi during their tour of Cape Town last week. Channel24)
‘The first thing I need is a house’
"The first thing I need is a house. That's one of the only things at the moment right now in my mind, so that I can get a stable place for my family,” he said on Sunday night.
"I was probably the most nervous person throughout the season," said Bones.
"The best thing I can say is to believe in yourself a little bit. If you know your talent, that will help you, because if you come to a show like Idols you need to make sure that you work on your confidence a little bit."
"I was terrified from the first day," he said. "After making it to the Top 16 I was a mess. It's a singing competition but you need to be a confident person as well."
Bones said he will not forget where he comes from. "I have people around me that constantly remind me who I am and where I come from. So for me, I feel safe because I've got those people that will always be there for me."
He wins a prize package of more than R800 000 which includes a recording contract with Universal Music Africa.
"For me it's a big moment. For me being the winner, it's going to sink in later. I didn't even believe I'm going to make it through the first audition."
"I came to Idols, I didn't necessarily have the confidence, but I had a plan in mind that I want to stay in the music industry. For me, from now on, I have to execute my plan. The plan that I have is to basically make good music. For me its music for the people; music that people enjoy," said Bones.
Surging viewer appeal
"The way that viewers are engaged with Idols, with the contestants, all the way through, is just unbelievable," said Victor Eckard, M-Net director. He said Idols kept breaking voting records week after week.
It happened because M-Net and Idols lowered the financial barriers for people to vote, enabling and allowing votes to be cast through new social media platforms as well as well as traditional methods.
It led to a massive voting surge which saw a dramatic spike of 236% in the total votes compared to the 9th season and which not only pleasantly surprised M-Net but also the TV industry.
Idols also did away with the mid-week elimination episode and combined it with the Sunday show which also returned to a live broadcast format. It elevated the dramatic tension and lifted viewership.
"It enhanced the engagement that viewers have with Idols and with the contestants. It's just been positive," said Eckard.
"There's nothing wrong with the format – it’s been working for the past 10 seasons. The fact that it's broken all the records is just another highlight. I don't think the format actually requires significant changes," said Eckard. Idols has been renewed for an 11th season with nationwide auditions that will start on 31 January 2015.
"We're always going to try and make it more exciting and add a few more surprises here and there," said veteran Idols producer Gavin Wratten.