The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Coca-Cola Back With Shs 50 Million for Next Music Star

In what is by far the biggest stake in any local talent show, Coca-Cola Uganda has pledged a hefty Shs 50m and a recording deal for the winner of their new singing competition.

Dubbed Rated Next, the competition was flagged off on Friday at a ceremony held at the beverage company's head offices in Namanve, Wakiso. The show will first feature regional auditions, which start this Friday in the northern town of Arua. It will next go to eight other towns across Uganda, where ten of the best contestants will be picked from each. The 90 finalists will then be transported to Kampala where a subsequent two-day screening will cut the number to 30.

"[They will] undergo a residential camp at Ndere Centre where they will train in various aspects of music as well as undergoing further screenings," Coke's Brand Manager, Brandon Ssemanda, said of the competition that is only open to unrecorded artistes of whichever age. Under-18s are, nonetheless, required to provide a consent letter from their parents.

The four-month-long competition's major aim is to give aspiring artistes a chance to realize their dream and is a partnership with Vision Group whose part of the deal involves airing the show live on its TV channels; Bukedde 1, Bukedde 2, Urban and TV West. The competition will eventually wind off on April 21 with a glamorous crowning ceremony of the next local music star that will walk away with Shs 50m, a two-album recording deal at Fenon Records and an iPad.

The first runner-up will scoop Shs 5m and an iPad while the third contestant will get Shs 2m and an iPad. Other winners will walk away with goodies including smart phones, sodas and T-shirts among others. Applications to the show are already available at Coca-Cola outlets and supermarkets across the country. All you have to do is buy a Coke and get the form, which participants will be required to fill and submit at audition venues.

The hefty stake aside, Rated Next is no ordinary contest. First, it is strictly local. Participants will only sing Ugandan songs or their own original compositions.

"This is one of our continued efforts to nurture young Ugandan talent for both personal and national development," said Norton Kingwill, Coca-Cola's Managing Director.

Coca-Cola is hailed for discovering the famous Blu*3 trio of Cinderella 'Cindy' Sanyu, Jackie Chandiru and Lillian Mbabazi in 2004 through the Coca-Cola Popstar competition.

"All you have to do is be confident and dress uniquely," Cindy advised the would-be participants. The challenge will be judged by a three-member panel of respected artistes Maurice Kirya, Sharp Sewali and Siima Kyomuhendo. Kirya, who participated in several talent shows before becoming famous, cautioned contestants against indiscipline.

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