You can tell from the look in his eyes that Kufre Ekanem, the former Corporate Affairs Adviser at Nigerian Breweries Plc, is very happy. Not because he is surrounded by his friends and family on this particular Sunday afternoon. Ekanem’s happiness stemmed from seeing a ten year-idea finally becoming a reality. That idea is Hymnodia, a new reality TV show focused on hymns. His close pals gathered at the event to witness the arrival of the contestants who are referred to as hymntestants enter the show’s house (also referred to as Hymnstitute) shared in this euphoria as they congratulated him.
As the story goes, Ekanem had always shared his marvy idea of having a music contest focused on hymns to his friends.
“My friends kept asking me when will Hymnodia happen. I am so glad that it is finally happening today,” he told his audience at the Ikeja residence that is the Hymnstitute.
“Hymnodia is a wholesome entertainment. It is hymns coming back in a way that the whole world will be engaged with it. It is an art of worshipping where the classical meets the contemporary and vice versa.”
To set the ball into motion, a flash mob was held at Ikeja City Mall in December last year that recorded over 1500 entries. Only 200 made it to the audition. That number was further trimmed to 14. For 13 weeks, the hymntestants would stay at the Hymnstitute where they will be grilled in writing and singing hymns by professional music directors who make up the faculty. Renowned music instructor Ben Ogbeiwi is the Dean of Hymns and will be bringing his no-nonsense persona to the show.
Hymnodia follows the normal music reality TV show format: dramatic performances, eviction and all the drama in between. For the hymntestants, it will be a very challenging journey as their wits will also be on trial. Clinical psychologist, Pamela Udoka will be evaluating their actions at different schedules. Also, hymntestants who fail to abide by the rules of the house will be taken to the ‘Wilderness’ ¬¬¬¬¬¬– ¬¬¬¬¬a solitary confinement ¬¬¬¬¬¬– till they repent or show remorsefulness for their actions.
“Who knows, they might even be inspired there,” Ekanem added during the tour of the residence.
For the arrival show, the 14 contestants ¬¬¬¬¬¬– six females and eight males – gave the audience a snippet of their talents, singing popular classical and contemporary hymns such as ‘Until Then’, ‘Old Rugged Cross’, and ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’.
Things got a bit dramatic when a 15th contestant was introduced. The contestant Casey Edema, a tenor singer was given the opportunity to enter the Hymnstitute by battling any of the male hymntestants. Picking the names from a ballot, a baritone singer Kenneth Ekhuemelo, was selected to battle with Edema.
Urging Edema and Ekhuemelo to demonstrate their talent as an evictee would only be part of the Hymnodia Choir if it suits him, Ogbeiwi stated: “this is a battle for success. May the best hymntestant win.”
With high spirit, both hymntestants put up classic performances. Edema who sang ‘Great is Thy
Faithfulness’, was evicted while Ekhuemelo, who performed ‘Old Rugged Cross’, joined the other 13 hymntestants into the Hymnstitute following the verdict of the faculty.
Elimination from the show, called Hymnviction by the organisers, will be by audience voting once the performance shows start during the 13 weeks of wholesome fun which the initiative would run. This will culminate into a grand finale of the show in April 2019, where theultimate winner will receive an Asaph, (a specially designed award named after David’s chief musician), a brand-new car and cash prize of N5 million.
Hymnodia will be shown for one hour every Sunday on Lagos Television (LTV) with a magazine show on same channel on Thursday evening.