I know there are millions who have a genuine connection to singing competitions. I joined them and spent Sunday evening watching the long Idols SA season 16 finale. I also watched the prize giving ceremony and the press conference. It’s like I was making up for lost time.
Anyway, if you haven’t seen it all over the media yet: Zama Khumalo won the coveted prize.
That wasn’t a surprise to me. Having not seen the runner up, Mr Music, or Zama herself a day in my life, it was clear that Zama is the superior singer.
And this is despite her nervous energy on stage and her insistence on casting her eyes to the floor when she’s not singing her verse of a cover song.
What did surprise me was the fact that part of the prize is a recording deal with Kalawa Jazmee. Historically, the Idols winner would be signed to one of the major global record labels.
“We’ve been in the music industry for 26 years and our track record proves for itself [sic],” said Kalawa co-owner, Oskido at the press conference.
He also mentioned that Umlilo and Indlovu, the last two singles by Kalawa signee, DJ Zinhle, have featured Idols contestants and both songs stayed at the top of radio charts for weeks.
It was a surprise but it makes sense for a South African Idol to be given a sonic direction by a legendary South African record label. Another surprise came in the form of Yamaha’s contribution. Now, even before coronavirus helped to send our economy into further shambles, R80 000 was nothing to sneeze at.
But consider the components of the Idols SA prize. A fashion brand parted with R100 000. A cellphone and tech company parted with cash and gadgets to the value of north of R150 000.
Zama won a car and a scooter — both of which aren’t cheap. But Yamaha gave away R80 000 in music equipment. Again: not a small figure. But when put next to the other figures, it seems like in a singing competition, the music should be valued a lot higher.
Perhaps this is the norm. To not have the main thing be the main thing. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t been watching religiously. But it would be interesting to know if it even matters to Zama, who apparently told Kalawa that the team would have to write her songs because she can only sing, to have said equipment. Girl, if you’re reading this, let us know.