The new season of Old Mutual Amazing Voices is in full swing and one of its star judges is award winning musician Vusi Nova.
The singing competition is a talent show for Africa’s rising a capella groups who are battling for the $100,000 (R1.4 million) cash prize.
The Citizen had the opportunity to speak to Vusi about the show, his role as a judge, advice to young artists and the media scrutiny.
Q: Why the decision to be a judge for a music talent show at this stage of your career?
Well I studied music and have experience of over 10 years in the industry and I also believe in helping others because we have so much talent and potential in Africa.
Q: As a judge what are the key things you will be looking for from the groups and what advice would you like to convey?
I’ll definitely be checking how they work together as a group as this is very important in this kind of situation. Teamwork is key! I’ll also be watching whether they are able to blend together as one vocally, because this too is a sign they’re a team. In terms of advice, I’d like to remind them that music heals and so it is very important to be able to connect with the song in order to tell the story better. Music is all about evoking emotion.
Q: What differentiates Amazing Voices from other singing competitions?
Well first of all, it’s the first of its kind and is a pan-African musical talent search show that will ultimately help Africans understand each other’s traditions and culture a bit better and in turn, help us eliminate xenophobia and give Africa’s talent a chance to realise their dreams. This is also a show that gives an opportunity to a group as opposed to an individual. This is an opportunity to kickstart a group’s music career.
Q: As a judge do you try to avoid having your favourites already, early in the competition?
I think you can’t help but have favourites, but that also is a bit of a problem because you then have expectations of those favourite groups and those are always hard to maintain. Also, the underdogs and the hard workers always tend to surprise towards the end. So we’ll see.
Q: Do you want to be more involved in building other singers’ careers?
Definitely! It’s something I’m very passionate about. There are artists I’ve already helped in this regard. Maybe this comes from the fact that when I was an up and coming artist, nobody helped me and it took me that much longer to get to where I am.
Q: Being in the industry for years, what are some of the things you wished you knew before pursuing a music career?
Guys, it’s very tough out here! You have to be thick-skinned! This industry is not for the weak.
Q: Your album Ngumama was released earlier in the year, tell us a bit about the reaction and what more music we could expect
I never get used to the love and support out there for my music. It is so humbling. I have nothing but love for all my supporters.
Q: As one of the top musicians in the country, never far from the spotlight, how do you deal with or handle the media scrutiny?
I guess it comes with the territory. It’s like losing uMama, the pain never goes away, you just learn to live with it.