‘I am the Future’ talent search resumes as contestants head to boot camp

17 year-old singer and guitarist Ange Rita Kagaju performs during last year’s auditions. Courtesy photos

A total of 38 contestants on Monday gathered at Excella School, Kimironko, for a month-long boot camp shortly after organisers resumed the ‘I am the Future’ talent search.

Themed ‘My Talent, My Opportunity’, the competition is co-organised by Future Records and Miracle Transporters, with the aim of detecting and promoting new music talents from across the country. 

The contestants qualified for the boot camp having passed the nationwide auditions that were held between late June and end of July, last year. 

The organisers, however, put the competition at pause, as requested by the Ministry of Sports and Culture, given that some students were still at school yet they qualified for the boot camp.

“We could not carry out the boot camp without the Ministry’s (MINISPOC) approval and we later learnt it was all down to contestants’ interests, especially students who were still at school. We kept in touch with contestants and managed to explain to them what was holding the boot camp until we decided to postpone the competition because we had limited time,” explained David Tuyishimire, the CEO of Future Records.

Majority of the contestants at the boot camp who spoke to The New Times said that they had already lost hope of making it to the next step of the competition, and had begun to regret their time and energy wasted participating in the competition, until they were called to resume their bid to win major prizes from the competition.

“We were supposed to be at the boot camp last year but it ended up being cancelled. The organisers were so communicative that they always managed to explain to us many times what went wrong, but many of us had lost patience and contemplated giving up on it.  We were surprised when we were finally called a few days ago, that the competition was going to resume,” said Jacques Iyamuremye, one of the contestants from Nyamasheke District.

 “I remember they (organisers) called us more than once to come for the boot camp and on arrival, they would postpone it. But now everything is going well, we are getting mentored on our music development so we can make it a profitable asset in our careers and we expect more to come during our stay. We look forward to a fruitful boot camp,” said Rodrigue Muvandimwe, another contestant from Rutsiro District.

According to Tuyishimire, contestants will be mentored differently during the boot camp, with music business, music development, management, performances and discipline in music, among others. Contestants are also given time for rehearsals in line with what they learn from the boot camp mentorship sessions.

“We have hired a team that is making sure that everything is in place at the boot camp, like assuring discipline and daily welfare, as well as accommodation facilities among contestants so they can pursue lectures in a conducive environment. We want to see a well-finished and competent product out of the contestants and this is what the boot camp envisions,” he said.

It is also during the boot camp when contestants will go into battle sessions during the weekends before an experienced panel of judges made up of Gospel musician Tonzi, Producer Nikola Mucyo and Kenyan and former Tusker Project Fame judge, Ian Mbugua.

During battle sessions, the jury will focus on creativity, stage performance and rhythm, among other things, to decide who will stay and who will leave the competition.

Each of the battle sessions will be open to the media and the general public to ensure transparency within the competition.

The first five will go through to the grand finale slated for December 29 at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village, where the overall winner will walk away with a cash prize of Rwf 15 million while the first runner-up will pocket Rwf 7 million in addition to a two-year recording contract for the two winners at Future Records.

Tuyishimire is convinced more effort will be spent on the winners after the competition to turn them into artistes who can challenge any accomplished African artiste.

“We have learnt that some artistes get an opportunity to get resources and exposure but fail to live up to the public expectations and end up a total flop. For us, we want to stay with the winning talents, guide them in music recording, promotion and business, to help them overcome different major challenges that may hinder their talent from developing,” he said.

Organisers also want to expand the competition from national to regional and continental as soon as possible.

“If things go according to plan, we want to bring together different music talents from East Africa for next year’s edition as we are looking to make the competition a regional one until it reaches the ranks of Africa.  We want it to be a recognised hub where African talents are discovered and exposed like we see ‘America’s Got Talent,” Tuyishimire revealed.