MTN Project Fame, one of West Africa’s most watched music talent TV reality shows which features contestants from Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, is filmed in Lagos, Nigeria and broadcast across the African continent.
On the MTN Project Fame’s wall of fame are the pictures of the past winners of the music academy – Iyanya winner of session 1 in 2008, Mike Anyasodo (iMike) winner of session 2 in 2009, Chidinma winner of session 3 in 2010, Monica Ogah winner of session 4 in 2011, Ayoola winner of session 5 in 2012, Olawale winner of session 6 in 2013, Geoffrey winner of session 7 in 2014, Jeffery Akor (the youngest) winner of session 8 in 2015.
As MTN Project Fame West Africa makes a return in 2016 with Season 9, millions of enthusiasts are ready to see their favourite artiste walk away with N5 million, brand new SUV and a multi-million naira recording contract, or even more. Joseph Benjamin and Bolanle Olukanni are the hosts of the show.
What are the past winners doing now? Do they still rock the music industry? Have they moved unto other things? Let’s find out here…
Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk (Iyanya): popularly known as Iyanya, he was born on October 31, 1986, and won the first MTN Project Fame West Africa in 2008. He has since remained a Nigerian recording artist and performer. After winning at the Music Academy, Iyanya worked hard and in 2011 released his debut studio album, My Story. “Kukere” remains one of his most successful songs. Other songs to his credit are “No Time”, “Ur Waist”, “Flavour”, “Sexy Mama”, “Jombolo” and “Love Truly”. Though Iyanya’s style of music has gradually changed through the years, he remains one of Nigeria’s respected artistes with international repute. He clinched the ‘Artist of the Year award’ at The Headies 2013 and is the co-owner of Made Men Music Group, a record label home to artists such as Tekno, Selebobo and Baci.
Mike Anyasodo (iMike): On Sunday, September 28, 2009, Mike Anyasodo, as a 26 year old undergraduate student of Ambrose Alli University emerged winner of the second edition of MTN Project Fame receiving a N2.5 million cheque, a Toyota RAV 4 and a one year recording contract.
Before parting ways with his recording label, August Pee Entertainment, iMike released songs such as ‘Residential Address’, ‘Adaure’, & ‘For My Head’
Ever since, Mike went off the music scene completely that fans had to take it hard on him and in November 2014, Mike took to his Instagram platform to apologize, promising to retrace his steps back to his music roots.
Chidinma Ekile: Born May 2, 1991, Chidinma won the third season of MTN Project Fame West Africa in 2010, and the first lady to do so. She got several prizes, including N2.5 million, a 2011 Toyota RAV4, and an album production deal. Chidinma has remained an active figure in the music industry. In 2011, she released her first solo single “Jankoliko” which featured Sound Sultan. Songs like “Jankoliko”, “Carry You Go”, “Kedike” and “Run Dia Mouth” were on her self-titled debut studio album which brought her international attention, performing in the Republic of Benin, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea, Niger and Ghana. ‘Chidinma’ has featured many popular artistes in her songs like Tha Suspect, Olamide and Muna. In 2012, Chidinma won the Best Female West African Act category at the 2012 Kora Awards; in May 2013, she signed an endorsement deal with MTN Nigeria.
Monica Ene Ogah: Born August 7, 1990, Monica is the winner of the fourth edition of MTN Project Fame West Africa on December 18, 2011, making her the second female after Chidinma to win the competition.
The Makurdi born artiste who is presently managed by Goretti Company has not really ruled the music scene. In August 2013, two years after her appearance on Project Fame, her debut studio album was released. She has worked with other artistes like Wizboyy, Chidinma, TY Mix, Del B, Silvastone, Wizboyy, J. Sleek and Tha Suspekt.
The “Obim bu nke gi” and “Body Hug” crooner has produced different genres of music from R&B, pop, and soul to highlife, receiving significant airplay on radio stations across Nigeria.
Ayobami Ayoola: After auditioning for Project Fame 1, 2, 3 and 4, Ayoola emerged the winner of MTN Project Fame Season 5, winning 2.5 million and other expensive music deals.
Born in Kano, Ayoola is the first of five children, and a graduate of Covenant University. He move to Lagos in 2000 and in 2012 made it to stardom through MTN Project Fame West Africa. He is yet to keep up with the expectations of his fans though he has worked with Chidinma, Ill Bliss, Tha Suspect and Vector. Little is heard of him in the music industry.
Yago and Hallelujah are some Ayoola’s popular songs. He was managed by Goretti before he recently shifted his attention to acting. He received an award for playing the lead role in a short film- Hex.
Olawale Ayodele Ojo: Emerged winner of MTN Project Fame Season 6 on Saturday, September 28, 2013, as a 400 level Agronomy student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Oyo State. Though the sixth winner of the competition, he was the first to win a whooping sum of N5 million, in addition to a brand new SUV jeep and a recording contract worth millions of naira. Nothing has been heard of the 25-year-old agronomist after the release of his debut single, ‘Is Notin’ in 2014.
Geoffrey Oji: Won the seventh season of Project Fame West Africa in September 2014, through the help of 960 Music Group and Ultima Productions he signed a management deal under which he released his debut single ‘Bursting My Brain’ on January 30, 2015. He still remains a Nigerian singer and songwriter; after his second single titled ‘Monalisa’. Geoffrey released his debut EP titled, Bursted in October 2015
Jeffery Akor: Born on October 27, 1996, Jeffery is the last winner and the youngest in the 9-year-old history of MTN Project Fame West Africa. In 2015, the Nigerian singer and vocalist, at age 18, took the world by surprise when he rose to prominence after winning the eighth season of Project Fame West Africa. He has since signed a management deal with 960 Music Group and Ultima Productions but is yet to be felt on the Nigeria’s music scene.
Who will emerge the winner of MTN Project Fame West Africa Session 9 and what impact will be made on the music scene?
– ‘Seyifunmi Adebote for encomium.ng