Saturday, May 28, 2016

Melissa John Wins Airtel Trace Music Star Tanzania Competition

Melissa John, a former Bongo Star Search contestant who’d made it into the Top 3 a few years ago, has emerged overall winner Airtel Trace Music Star Season 2 Singing Competition that took place May 20th, 2016.  But what has changed about Melissa’s voice? Once again, as vocal coach to the Top 5 this year, I have a couple of insider tips I’d like to share with you in my blog post this week.

Melissa won the competition hands down, singing the acoustic version of 80s classic My One Temptation by reigning British Queen of Soul Mica Paris. With her prize came a check from Airtel for fifty million shillings and a ticket to represent Tanzania in the Airtel Trace Music Star Grand Finale in Nigeria on June 11th, 2016. Singing the Chaka Khan classic Through the Fire, Nandy Charles—a familiar face in singing competitions, her last being the Techno event that took her to Nigeria to compete for Tanzania—came second and received a check from Airtel for 5 million shillings. Salim Mlindila, who sang the unforgettable This I Promise You by NYSNC took 3rd position and received a check for 2 million shillings. So what do these contestants have in common? They have talent, no doubt about that, but what made a huge difference is that they’d had professional vocal training before the competition.

Melissa kept telling me throughout her ten day training program that she was experiencing her ability to sing improving beyond her wildest dreams. She was hitting notes she’d never hit before, and in such a short space of time. Training specifically tailored to her is what did the trick. I also recorded segments of her lessons on my Dictaphone (as I did the others), which I then gave to her to continue training from home before the next lesson. That is how she completely transformed her voice to the immensely professional vocal she delivered at ATMS.

Nandy has a truly powerful voice, but proper voice training made a world of difference. If only she’d had the training before she went to Techno in Nigeria, I’m sure she would’ve won the Techno competition. Salim is really best suited to the NSYNC song he delivered at the Finale, and with more training I sense the sky truly is the limit for him. It was a pleasure working with all the Top 3 contestants.

Ben Sule, who came fourth, delivered Happy by Pharrell Williams, albeit with a couple hiccups that compelled him to stop-start twice before the third attempt that saw him through the song. His main problem being, despite my relentless attempts to put him on the straight and narrow on this, he delivered his first note on empty—with practically no breath—and that threw his vocal into disarray. I’d warned him on numerous occasions in training, but it just didn’t seem to register with him at all. And so he bungled his performance. I hope this serves as a lesson in itself to all of you. Your first note IS the most important. Breathe, and keep on breathing to deliver your notes. Nicole, who came last, was a complete disaster with the song Crush by Jennifer Paige. But I was expecting this. She’d gotten into the Top 5 by fluke and we couldn’t have her replaced because her name had already been published. And so we, the judges, had made a huge error in judgment in selecting her. Not everyone has the talent to go from zero to hero in 10 hours.

You are the instrument, learn to sing like a pro!


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