Kortje wins music competish

Karin Kortje, a former apple packer from the small town of Grabouw in the apple-growing region of the Western Cape, became South Africa’s third ‘Idol’ Sunday night in an emotional finale to the most successful “Idols” season yet for paycaster M-Net.

The 26-year-old Kortje had been the favorite to win since she first bowled over the judges — even reducing South Africa’s own “Mr. Nasty,” Randall Abrahams, to tears — during the first round of auditions in Cape Town with her rendition of Shirley Bassey’s “Never Never Never.”

Her powerful yet soulful voice, which has earned her comparisons to Aretha Franklin, subsequently received consistent praise from the judges every week as the “best voice yet in South African ‘Idols’ ” and earned her a growing fan base among viewers.

In the finale, which drew a record 10 million votes to decide the winner, Kortje was pitted against another big audience favorite, Gift Gwe, a sound engineering student from the coastal resort of Mossel Bay.

The judges, Kortje and Gwe were all in tears after the winner was announced, with Kortje too overwhelmed with emotion to even get through a rendition of her new single. Kortje receives a prize package of $450,000, including a recording contract with Sony BMG, and “Idols” judge Dave Thompson from Sony BMG said after the show that the 21-year-old Gwe, who is particularly popular with female fans, would also be offered a recording contract.

The second season of “South African Idols” was a little flat, with viewership falling from the first season, but season three has come back as the most successful yet in terms of viewership and voting numbers.

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