The Voice Nigeria Finale Was a Blast


AIRTIME Plus with Nwabuikwu Onu

The Voice Nigeria, season one has come to an end. And 28-year old A’rese (Agharese) Emokpae from Team Waje emerged its first winner. This you must already know if you have had a passing interest in The Voice Nigeria.
But I was in Johannesburg, South Africa for the finale of The Voice Nigeria which held Sunday July 31, 2016.

Hopefully, I can give you something from the show that wasn’t entirely on TV. I was part of a media team which comprised mainly online media reps and we were at the studios just before the show to see all the action before the show went live to the rest of the world.

While the online guys, young and savvy media entrepreneurs were busy tweeting and snap chatting away, my analogue self was busy doing my best fly on the wall prep, observing and writing my story in my head. I did manage to send out a picture of me with Patoranking, and another of me with Chike or Chike Ranking.

•The Coaches in their Den
Before seeing anyone on The Voice Nigeria, host IK Osakioduwa was the first person we ran into. And he was as gracious as a good host can be. He couldn’t have been more welcoming even if we had called ahead to arrange the meeting. And it was off to see the coaches.

Timi Dakolo, coach and head of Team Timi was the first person we met in his den. The man was being groomed; his hair was being cut and all that. As viewers have discovered since April 10, 2016 when the show began Timi is a very jovial/lively person. Responding to compliments on how good his hair looked, he said he didn’t know looking good could be so painful. His family was also present. His beautiful wife Busola was there with their three kids. Mind you, I put all of this together after we left his space. Because everyone seemed to do a double take when they saw Timi’s wife.

In fact, someone had jokingly asked: Timi, what did you tell this beautiful woman to make her marry you? Without missing a beat, Timi came back with a funny quip. He actually started the exchange of banter when he called his wife his ‘side chick’. Which was believable if you didn’t know her: young, beautiful. Certainly didn’t look like the mother of three children.

Then it was on to Patoranking (Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie) coach and head of Team Patoranking. The usually outgoing performer was quiet, looking subdued, like he had a long stressful day. But not enough not to stop him from announcing that August 1 should be declared a public holiday because God Over Everything or GOE, his debut album was going to be released on that day. Or that the next ‘bus stop’ was “jumbo syana” after his ‘atlantic and pacific’. Don’t ask me what jumbo syana means though.

And then we went to see Waje or should I say Queen Waje (Aituaje Iruobe) coach and head of Team Waje. Who also happened to have produced the winner of the first edition of The Voice Nigeria. In spite of all the primping and grooming that was going on, Waje was warm and one could easily think of her as a long lost ‘bestie’. I had to leave the room, even though I wasn’t asked to, when she asked for her team (Arese and Patrick) in order to pray with them before they went on stage. One fallout from the The Voice Nigeria was the transformation of Waje before our very eyes. Between the Blind Auditions and the finale, she’d trimmed down considerably and gotten ‘fiercer’.

2Baba (Innocent Idibia) was the only coach I didn’t enter his space. He was said to be sleeping. When next I saw him, he was eating. And the air was thick with smell of Nigerian food – from ogbono to ‘burning’ beans.

•Meeting the Finalists
I should begin with the no-shows. Brenda (Adigwe) and Viveeyan (Chisom Vivian Udeh). Just like their coach 2Baba, they were nowhere to be found.
Everyone else was being extra friendly: Chike, Nonso Bassey (Team Pato Ranking), Cornel, Dewe (Team Timi) A’rese and Patrick (Team Waje). Dewe seemed to always have a smile on his face. A’rese was warm and a little shy. They posed for several pictures for the media team. Did videos, took selfies, basically did everything they were asked even when it was out of their comfort zone. Still, considering the impending show and how nerve wracking that must be, they handled things very well, all things considered.
Anyhow my one assignment was to fulfill my teenage daughters’ request for a selfie with Chike. But he went one further and sent a video message.

•And the winner is…
The finale show itself began on schedule and I had a good view with a front row seat just to the right of the coaches. I was the lady in red.
From the coaches who performed with their own contestants, to the finalists themselves, it was a blast. Plus, it was refreshing to watch the finale of a musical reality show whose performances weren’t dependent on external ‘big name’ performers.

Don’t know how you saw the show. Or how you heard the singing for that matter. But it was amazing from the inside. Kept thinking this must be what the coaches hear that we don’t hear from home. Because sometimes when coaches praise contestants, the viewer can be left wondering if their hearing was okay. Fact is, everyone (or almost everyone) who made the Top 8, deserved to be there. Any one of them could have won a prize even if not the ultimate prize.

Surely, Viveeyan deserves a prize for such an understated yet a punch-in-the-stomach performer when she gets on stage. There’s Cornel who should be making records already. And Nonso Bassey. And Patrick’s hunger grabs you. Dewe whose shy look can make you overlook him comes alive on stage. Brenda is the total performer. I think of her performances of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass and Cynthia Morgan’s I’m Taken. One fan was happy she didn’t win so she can proceed straight into the industry without being held back by any obligations to the organisers as a winner.

A’rese who became the eventual winner was already the stage maestro before The Voice Nigeria. And she didn’t disappoint as she took musical risk after musical risk. Well, it all paid off in the end: A recording contract with Universal, an SUV valued at N7m and a 4-day all-expense paid trip with a partner to Abu Dhabi. And that’s just the beginning.

•Waje & A’rese: Two Powerful Edo Women
Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a point to push. But in the light of the bad rap Edo women get, it makes sense to point out and celebrate Edo women who are positive role models. Imagine that during the last election – one politician’s wife promised to stop Edo women from prostitution or some foot in the mouth gaffe like that.
How cool is it therefore that both Coach Waje (Aituaje Iruobe) and A’rese (Agharese Emokpae) are strong talented Edo women? And me of course! Hopefully, outgoing Comrade governor Adams Oshiomhole is going to honour them!

•Why South Africa?
The fact that The Voice Nigeria held in South Africa was a sore point for quite a few people. But why was the show held in South Africa? We could hazard a few guesses. But I could never hold brief for the organisers.
Suffice it to say that as a viewer, I was first and foremost drawn to the high production quality of The Voice Nigeria. When I was ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ about the quality of The Voice Nigeria, and how well it had kept to the international standards of The Voice, I didn’t know it wasn’t being shot in Nigeria. Would that have made any difference? That’s moot now.

Still, this shouldn’t degenerate into a Nigeria vs South Africa free for all melee. Everyone has a point: Those who wanted the show produced in Nigeria for patriotic and economic reasons vs those who just want good quality. Should viewers, after paying to have satellite TV, resign themselves to mediocre TV programming because of patriotism? Is there a middle ground?
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