By John Ekongo
Revellers, partygoers, music lovers and the public braved the cold to witness the announcement of the new Cell One Road to Fame winner on Friday evening.
The show, a first of its kind, lasted for a solid five hours and went on without any incidents of violence or unbecoming conduct.
And by the end of the show, Ricardo Shaningua from Ohangwena took the most coveted prize – a chance to record an album with top South African music directors and a management contract by Cell One.
The 25-year-old banking official beat 12 other contestants to the prize, during a gruelling and fierce competition that started last year. The show has been running for eight months up until the final show on May 30.
During the eight months regional finalists were announced from all 13 regions and they converged in the capital towards the end of April for the final knockout phase.
During the month-long knockout phase the 13 contestants went through voice training workshops, music workshops and other stage persona experiences all in the name of quality.
The “Cell One Road to Fame” was launched as a talent search project, culminating in the concert that took place at the Eliakim Namundjebo Plaza on Friday.
Scores of youth and old defied their voices as they screamed their lungs out when the first contestant came on stage to perform.
Nelson Nagenda, from the Karas region hit the stage with an especially composed song “Marching On” composed by duo Gustav and George Pickering of the G3 fame. All the contestants had to sing the same song but each performer had to personalise the song in their own taste and genre.
Nagenda wowed the audience with a subtle, but nicely rhythmic Latin American beat leaving the ladies in ecstatic mood, together with a large contingent of fans from the South. The faithful fans had even gone to the extent of creating fliers, banners and the lot for their Karas region star.
A condiment of guest performing artists also graced the show with a tantalising display of talent and dancing skills. The likes of Sunny Boy and Kamasutra of the Green House Music stable left the fans asking for more.
Also at hand was Aunty Sousa with his sidekicks Chuckies and Punch. The trio provided an uproarious performance combined with the usual side pranks and comic on stage persona.
Not to be outdone was Lady May, who sent most men gasping at her moves of what is easily Namibia’s own diva in the mould of the late Brenda Fassie. Lady May kept defying gravity with her flexible muscles as she performed hit after hit from her album, “Tjokola”.
Perennial achiever stole the limelight briefly when Gazza and his dancing entourage stomped the stage for an all out performance of hit songs such as, “Mokasie, Together and Kala Kuunako Nasha”, alongside a number of yet unreleased songs from an upcoming album.
But the night belonged to the contestants and when the only female and the youngest contestant at 16 years, Anushka Eiman from Hardap took to the mike, she sang with conviction that belies her age.
She showed maturity, versatility and certainly displayed that in the not-too-distant future this youngster can become a musical force to reckon with.
By the time Donovan van Schalkwyk came on stage, the bar had been raised and he had to pull out all the stops to convince the judges, Severius Majiedt, Amor Basson and Natula Hainane that he is the next Cell One Road to Fame Superstar.
Van Schalkwyk’s performance was not enough, however, as the voting public decided upon Shaningua, as the winner.
Shaningua, a Ruben Studdard built alike with a velvety John Legend voice, had just done right about enough to capture the road to fame bounty. A man of his built defied the odds as he was equally comfortable with the mike as he was with his sublime dancing skills, not too extravagant and not too shabby either, just about the right dose.