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Zimbabwe Singing Idol Jonah Sithole Stresses   “Diversity”


This year's search for Zimbabwe's own singing idol has kicked off with auditions in Mutare, Bulawayo and Harare. The winner of the competition (the CBZ A Academy) will win a recording deal. Last year's teenager idol, 18-year-old Jonah Sithole, has just released his debut album 'Diversity'. But critics say it fails to live up to the hype his winning the contest created. Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Derek Moyo in Harare, Zimbabwe, says Sithole's 10-track CD has failed to rock local music charts, despite its executive producer Gary Thompson pleading with the media to give the idol "a chance".

The CD cover features Thompson praising Sithole, who he describes as a sensational, original, and talented individual who has a "great attitude." The producer concludes by writing "You gotta believe in him, I do".

Unfortunately, Sithole's CD fails to impress. Local critics have slated Sithole's performance as "lacking identity". They also argue there's nothing Zimbabwean about his compositions.

The opening track on Sithole's album is titled Diversity. It also features Tapiwa Mugadza and an artist called "Young Doe". The lyrics urge people to unite, while celebrating their diversity. This is not a new sentiment; in fact critics say it sounds more like he's copying African leaders appeals for an African renaissance.

The tracks on the CD are heavily influenced by American R'n'B and contains up-tempo beats.

Like most other young Zimbabwean musicians, Sithole sings about love. Tracks dealing with matters of the heart include 'Equation of me and you', 'Ease Up', 'Puerto-Rican Girl', 'Need to know' and 'Right Now'.

While Sithole has been described as an American imitation with his baggy jeans and "bling bling" chains, he insists he has an identity.

In his only Shona song, titled Kwandinobva (Where I come from", Sithole sings about how he grew up listening to Oliver Mtukudzi and the late Marshal Munimunwe's Four Brothers.

While some might not like his style, Sithole will no doubt inspire fellow aspiring young musicians who're eager to get the same chance that the CBZ A Academy gave him.

These musicians may not become wealthy or praised for a trend-setting style, but they will achieve their five minutes of fame, thanks to having their faces splashed across newspapers, posters and on television.


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