MTN Y’ello Star Gets New International Partners, Unveils Hosts, Judges

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Vanessa Obioha

MTN Nigeria is raising the bar with its latest music reality project, Y’ello Star. It announced recently that it sealed partnerships with Berklee College of Music — the largest independent college of contemporary music and performing arts in the world — and Henley Business School, alongside Afrinolly as technical partner.

What this means is that members of the Berklee community will serve in various capacities on the project, and the winner of the music reality project will record their debut single at the Power Station at BerkleeNYC.

“We’re excited to work with MTN and Afrinolly Creative Hub on the Y’ello Star Project,” says Berklee President Roger H. Brown. “This is a great opportunity for artists from the vibrant Nigerian music scene to get advice and mentorship from Berklee’s knowledgeable professors while broadening awareness of Berklee in the region through MTN’s large audience. We look forward to hearing all of the talents and welcoming the winner to the Power Station at BerkleeNYC.”

Members of the Henley Business community will provide entrepreneurial training and coaching to contestants.

“Henley is proud to be an international Business School, with 80,000 alumni from over 150 countries. We have a special relationship with Africa – over 6,000 alumni are from Africa, and we are proud to have five Alumni Chapters in Africa,” says Professor John Board, Dean of Henley Business School, “Not only is Henley one of the top business schools graduating nearly 1,000 students per year, we have run programmes in 15 other countries in the continent. The partnership with Afrinolly Creative Hub in Nigeria is a very important step to our ambition to build the people, who build the businesses, that build Africa.”

MTN Nigeria created Y’ello Star earlier in the year to search, discover, nurture and launch music talents in the young Nigerian community. Due to the unprecedented COVID-19, the show was put on hold. Y’ello Star returned with digital auditions late August and over 9,000 contestants submitted entries for the project. However, only the top 13 contestants will make it to the hub for the competition.

“This project goes beyond discovering talent in the Nigerian entertainment industry. MTN Y’ello Star is a conduit for capacity building within the creative industry, empowering the contestants and industry with the relevant practical knowledge to compete on a global scale. We are thankful for partners such as the Berklee College of Music who share this vision,” emphasises the Acting Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria, Anthony Obi.

“It is time for Nigerian Music to take its rightful place in the global community,” says CEO of Afrinolly Chike Maduegbuna. “With partners like MTN and Berklee, Afrinolly Creative Hub is excited to bring our technical expertise into the discovery of emerging music talents, cultivating and helping them grow. I am excited that Berklee College of Music is here to help us launch them on to a global stage.”

The company also revealed that the live shows will begin on November 15 and run till December 13, 2020. Hilda Baci and Tobi Bakre were unveiled as the hosts, while the three judges are popular Nigerian musicians Banky W and Omawumi, and American spoken word poet, six-time Grammy award winner, actor and producer Malik Yusef.

Winner of the Y’ello Star will be rewarded an apartment with an in-built studio, a Honda CRV car, a recording deal and N5 million cash prize.