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Africa hopefuls line up for ‘Idols’

Show scheduled to start Feb. 18

JOHANNESBURG — African paybox M-Net is capitalizing on the passion for music in West Africa by airing the region’s first local “Idols” hunt for a new star.

War refugees, students, the unemployed and housewives were among thousands of hopefuls who lined up to take part in auditions in Nigeria and Ghana for “Idols West Africa” during January, with the show scheduled to start broadcasting to sub-Saharan African viewers through Multichoice’s DStv satellite service Sunday nights beginning Feb. 18.

Residents from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo between the ages of 18 and 30 are eligible to enter.

During the first round of auditions, wannabes were allowed to perform a wide range of music styles from traditional to modern, but contestants selected to continue must be able to sing pop, African and Western music, including English-language songs.

“Idols West Africa” is produced for M-Net by Nigeria’s Pan African Entertainment with Fremantle Media, the originators of the concept.

The judges are Nigerian musician Dede Mabiaku, Ghanaian singer Abrewa Nana and the American-born, Lagos radio DJ Dan Foster.

Presenter is Nigerian TV personality and entertainer Mike Magic.

Joseph Hundah, M-Net operations director for Sub-Saharan Africa, says the show embraces Africa’s love affair with music.

“Wherever you go in West Africa, there are songs in the air, voices in harmony, a radio humming, a rhythm being celebrated. That’s what ‘Idols’ is about,” he says. “With West Africa offering large television audiences to M-Net, it’s fitting that we create an ‘Idols’ here.”

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