Auditions kick off to identify, grow the next music superstars

Thursday October 29 2020

Rwandan musicians perform during one of the past music contests. PHOTO ~ Andrew I. Kazibwe


With Covid-19 restrictions, the local events scene suffered, leaving organisers to innovate or perish.

One such innovation has been the Next Pop Star, a talent search event that kicked o¬ late last month. What makes this different – even unique – is that it is using the digital online space to reach its market.

The event seeks to discover, nurture, and promote Rwandan talents in the fashion of internationally staged contests.

Unlike previous events, Next Pop Star seeks to identify talents, then present them to audiences in Rwanda and beyond, says Christian Dushime, the chief executive of Rwandan events outfit More Events – the lead organiser.

“By the end of it all, an artist would have a systematic management and re-cording label locally and internationally,” he added.

Past contests locally and regionally have seen realisation of great acts, but these haven’t enjoyed a sustainable life shelf.


Among the organisers is an affiliate of Sony Music in America — SM1 Music Group. The others are Network Showbiz and Second Nature films.

Scaing down

The event targets an initial 60 contestants. These will battle out to 30, then to finally 10 who will battle for the title. The winner will awarded a recording deal prize worth Rwf50 million ($51,171) with SM1/Sony Records.

The overall winner will also get a chance to collaborate with surprise international musical acts from globally, on top of holding musical tours.

This event aims to maintain an annual trend of events through competitions and realisation of talent.

In the auditions, going on till December, contestants send in recorded videos of themselves performing. Selected videos are broadcast weekly. The tail-end of the auditions will feature live studio sessions with a limited audience in line with Covid-19 guidelines.

Michael Kiwanuka, the founder of Network Showbiz, who worked with the Tusker Project Fame Kenya, says there is a huge gap and challenge when it comes to the business of African art.

“An artist is a brand, and he can employ so many people if properly well managed,” he told Rwanda Today.

Jimford Angulu alias VJ Nano, one of the organisers of this event, lamented that the business aspect of music has not been well-realised.

The Next Pop Star was created for all African countries but the Covid-19 pandemic a¬ selected audiences and potential would-be sponsors.

“We scaled it down to East African level, which proved trickier, then kept it in Rwanda, but with a mission of growing it beyond borders,” Kiwanuka explains.