IT is official! The number of contestants to battle it out for the top three spots of the Coca Cola Rated Next talent search is now 39.
These have been sieved from diverse characters in as many as 1,000 from four districts. Among them, 10 are from Fort Portal, 10 from Gulu, nine from Lira and 10 from Arua.
Several other contestants from Mbarara, Masaka, Mbale, Jinja and Kampala will be selected to try out their luck in the finals. Tomorrow, the judges are pitching camp in Mbarara until February 1 to choose Mbarara's best.
However, only three winners will take the day. But, who is helping to choose the best contestants? Of course, the public will vote for their best as will be communicated on Urban and Bukedde TVs. But first, the judges are helping to make your voting easier.
And if there is any adage that fits the description of the judges of the Coca-Cola Rated Next talent search show, it has got to be 'set a thief to catch a thief'. The three members of the panel embody and live music on a daily basis.
Judge Maurice Kirya is a renowned musician with his brand of music he prefers to call mwoyo. He has been in the industry for more than 10 years, singing and writing his music. Kirya released his maiden album in late 2009. The album was an instant success, selling both locally and internationally.
Among the accolades he has received is the 2010 RFI Discoveries award in France that recognises African musicians. He beat over 500 artistes in Africa. His fanbase stretches as far as Europe and the US.
If you remember the 1990s gospel group called First Love, then judge Sharpe Ssewali needs no introduction.
First Love was born as an off shoot of a schools' mission programme at Kampala Pentecostal Church with five young men who included Ssewali. Ssewali did most of the lead vocals of the songs in the gospel group.
The film producer, who is on the panel of judges of the Coca Cola Rated Next is a pilot by training, but has a passion for singing. He is currently a writer, and film producer with First Love features an off shoot of First Love Studios.
Another person on the panel of judges is Siima Sabiti. The programmes manager at XFM is a professional instrumentalist with a penchant for the flute.
She attended the Mount School, York in the UK before joining Vision Group. She also presents the Breakfast show with Rudende and Bush Baby on XF.