With last year’s winner, Jeff, kicking off the Gala Night by performing his debut single, Never Let You Go, the Project Fame reality show last Saturday admitted into its Academy 14 contestants that will battle for the ultimate prize this new season.
The event, which took place at Ultima Studios, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, was full of suspense as the contestants and audience held their breaths to know who will get the judges’ nod and finally go into the Academy.
Out of the 18 contestants, the judges had already pronounced 12 as winners. They included Eli, Oluchi, Gabriel, Winner, Elizabeth, Yusuph, Pere, Mirabel, Dipo, Solomon, Okiemute, and Favour. However, six contestants, Benjamin, Blessing, Kitay, Kissi, Seun, and Steve had to perform once again in order to get admission into the Academy. In the end, Kitay and Steve made it while Kissi, Seun, Benjamin, and Blessing bade the show goodbye – but not the final goodbye as they will automatically assume the Wild Card contestant positions, meaning that with enough votes, they can still be called back into the race.
For the lucky ones, therefore, the journey into fame and fortune has fully begun. Every week, they will take center stage to entertain and serenade the viewers at home, while the Faculty and Judges do their utmost best to nurture the seeds in them to greatness.
At the end of the season, the overall winner will smile to the bank with a whopping N5 million, a brand new SUV, and a recording contract worth millions of Naira. 1st runner-up will get N3 million and a brand new saloon car while 2nd runner-up takes home N2 million and a brand new saloon car. 3rd runner-up will get N2 million only.
Oladapo Ayoola Arogundade
A Systems Engineering undergraduate of University of Lagos, Dapo’s interest in music started at the age of seven when he began following his mum to choir rehearsals. The 18-year-old guy, who hails from Abeokuta, Ogun State, became sure of his talent having repeatedly won a particular music competition in secondary school. Dapo enjoys an amazing relationship with his family of six but will mostly miss his mum while in the Academy. Wizkid, Davido, and Chris Brown are his biggest musical influences.
Eli, 22, is currently studying Fashion Designing in Ghana. He grew up in a house where listening to music was fun. Eli holds his family and pastor dearly and would miss them greatly while in the Academy. He enjoys listening to Timi Dakolo and Tuface while playing his favourite sport – basketball. Apart from singing, Eli also enjoys playing the guitar. Single and ready to mingle, he however, sees the Academy as serious business and not a place to mingle
Elizabeth Jolade Emoruwa
Fondly called Elbe by friends and family, Elizabeth, 24, was forced to grow up after the demise of her doting dad. As the last child of the house, she enjoyed attention from her dad until his death in 2013. Very early in life, Elbe’s dad introduced every member of the family to music, and got them musical instruments, hence she sees him as her first musical influence.
The pretty gap-toothed singer, who studied Mass Communication at Ibadan Polytechnic (Eruwa Campus), sees herself as strangely quiet but jovial and cool to be with. Auditioning for Project Fame in Lagos was her very first real audition; and she is in the Academy to define her musical journey. Elibe’s hobbies include singing in the kitchen and bathroom, talking and swimming (even if she has never tried it before). She looks forward to starting her music career soon.
Favour will endear one’s heart with her smile. She has a Sierra Leonean dad who is a musician and a dancer Nigerian mum. She was born, bred and currently lives in Lagos with her family. Favour had her secondary school education at Campus Comprehensive College, Lagos. Her dad’s musical influence has rubbed off on the family, as she has a brother who plays the piano while the others are vocalists. In 2010, Favour lost her mum whom she describes as very strict. She wished her mum were here now as she has always wanted her in Project Fame. Favour’s passion includes singing, barbing and playing. She describes herself as troublesome and looks forward to having fun in the competition.
His friends fondly call him Gabby. The 27-year-old teacher who hails from Accra, Ghana loves God, music, and children. Being an only child, Gabriel is very close to his dad whom he said taught him almost everything, most especially, cooking. Also, because he is an only child, Gabriel hopes to have six children, so he can make up for the large family experience he didn’t have. The Ghanaian, who plays piano and drums, continues to hone his singing skills by listening closely to artistes like Kesse, James Arthur, Frank Ocean, and Brymo.
Kitay describes himself as a ‘confirmed Warri boy!’ He was born, raised, and had his primary and secondary school education in Warri, Delta State before proceeding to Ambrose Alli University, Edo State where he is currently a 300 level student of Vocational & Technical Studies.
Kitay is the 5th child of a large family. Music for him started when dad began taking him to church. He joined the choir and continued to school himself in music. He later won a gospel music competition in Warri in 2013. The music enthusiast auditioned for Project Fame season 8 in Abuja, but did not make it to the Top 24. So, he decided to give fame another shot this year but at the Port Harcourt audition. Outside music, Kitay enjoys playing football.
Mirabel hails from Delta State and is a graduate of Babcock Business School. Aside her love for music, the 21-year-old contestant is also into fashion designing, a craft that runs in her family. Mirabel is equally a white belter in Karate, a sport she developed interest in by watching action movies. Although, the competition could be stiff, the music lover believes grace will single her out.
Okiemute, 25, is a Linguistics & Communications graduate of University of Port Harcourt. With a contagious smile and bubbly spirit, it is very easy to believe the Delta State-born singer when she describes herself as a fun-loving individual.
Okiemute used to have a career in modeling, but lately she is following her passion as a band lead singer. The third of four girls, Okiemute credits her journey into music to one of her sisters, whom she said was always quick to put her at the forefront of any music-related activity.
Oluchi can simply be described as an amiable chic. The 24-year-old Abia Sate indigene is sixth among seven children. She studied Music at Lagos State University. Oluchi started singing in church at a very young age; she was also a member of the choir in secondary school. She loves listening to Asa and Adele.
Oluchi sees winning as learning and not necessarily as clinching the ultimate prize. A very optimistic person, she loves taking risks and challenging norms.. Oluchi is currently in a relationship with her bestie’s elder brother who is supportive of her music career. She will however miss him while in the Academy.
Pere Davies Atie
Pere would make you realise he is in the competition to win. Though, born and raised in Lagos, Pere, 22, moved to Bayelsa State immediately after his secondary school. He is currently a 300 level Political Science student at Niger Delta University, and seems to be an Internet sensation with quite a huge social media followership and a number of cover songs on YouTube.
Pere says he likes to be pushed, even beyond his limits because every setback is an opportunity for him to work harder. Little wonder he kept auditioning since 2010 not deterred by the ‘Nos’.
Pere’s musical influence includes Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Tubaba, Iyanya, and Sheyi Shay. Having worked so hard to get into the Academy, Pere is set to clinch the prize.
Solomon, 27, hails from Lagos State. He has a BSc in Accounting from University of Abuja and loves to live life to the fullest, because according to him, ‘you only live once’.
Born into a strict Christian home, Solomon grew up singing in church. As the only male child among three sisters, he enjoys cooking and singing with his siblings. His other hobbies include playing video games and watching football. Solomon had auditioned thrice for Project Fame and still did not give up because he believes every individual should be undeterred in the pursuit of their dreams, hence, he traveled all the way to Abuja from Kaduna to give fame another shot.
Steve, 19, teaches diction and phonetics in a primary school, a choice of career which was greatly influenced by his love for children and the English language. Steve, who hails from Ogun State, is from a family of singers, hence music started from home before he went on to join the children choir in church.
Steve auditioned in Lagos and is excited to have made it thus far in the competition. His style of music has been influenced by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kim Burrell, and Micah Stampley. He is looking forward to being groomed by Uncle Ben and Mummy J in the Academy; and would miss his aunt, Beverly, while in the competition.
23-year-old Winner from Delta State started singing from the age of four in church. Though, she grew up among a family of six, Winner particularly shares a strong bond with her mum, whom she admits has been through a lot with her; and would miss greatly while in the Academy.
Winner wants to become a musical icon like Celine Dion, Beyonce, and Sinach. She hopes to win the competition not only to achieve her dream but also complete her education. Winner equally hopes to make her boyfriend, Solomon, proud while in the competition. So, she is not ready to mingle.
You cannot miss Yusuph among the pack. It’s not only because of his voice, his fuji blend of music or his bubbly personality, but also because of his haircut. The 19-year-old contestant believes he needs to stand out with his looks and never go unnoticed, hence the unique haircut. He sees the lower part of the hair as where he is now and the upper part as where he is going.
From a very staunch Muslim background, you’d wonder why and how Yusuph veered into music. The Lagos State Polytechnic alumnus just discovered this innate talent when he saw music in everything – even in Quran recitation and Islamic prayers.
As a strict Alhaji, Yusuph’s dad initially did not support his music quest, but his presence on Project Fame has earned him total support. The Abeokuta, Ogun State indigene and last of four children aims to clinch the ultimate prize and then launch his own genre of music, which he tagged, Fuji R&B.