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VOICE OF CHOICE (article first published : 2004-07-30)

SABC Radio's Voice of Choice is a 23-week talent search that has been taking place on 11 of SABC Radio's Public Broadcast Stations (PBS). The build-up has now begun to the exciting finals on August14.

A first for South African radio, Voice of Choice was launched in April 2004 and is broadcast during a dedicated Saturday show between 13h05 and 14h00 across all participating stations ('roadblocking' a timeslot across stations is another SABC first).

"Each station has run individual competitions, covering the entire language spectrum in all nine provinces. Voice of Choice is about pure talent, without any language or physical barriers, no special look is needed only the ability to sing," said Judi Nwokedi, Managing Director, SABC PBS Radio.

Among the top 22 finalists were Ukhozi FMís Muzuvukile Maseko from Umlazi and Simon Gwala from Hillcrest.

Voice of Choice has already attracted top brands that have realised the potential of this captive audience and some exciting prizes have been included for both participants and listeners. African Bank, South Africa's leading specialist credit bank, has joined as the main sponsors of the event. "African Bank is proud to be associated with Voice of Choice as it aims to unearth, develop and showcase local vocal talent and break down the physical barriers associated with the music industry. We believe it is the focus in unlocking the talent of each individual human being that will make us a truly free society," says Tami Sokutu, Managing Director of African Bank Retail Lending Division.

Indigi Productions will assist in grooming and managing the participants throughout and after the competition and, together with the SABC, will award the national winner a recording contract. Mazda has donated a new Mazda sedan for each of the station winners, as well as a Mazda 6 for the main winner. The public also had the opportunity to enter two on-air competitions, each with a prize total of R1,000 per station.

Entrants auditioned by phoning the dedicated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) competition lines and singing one of 14 pre-selected audition songs, a qualified judging panel, aided by specialised pitch tracking software (developed for the competition) whittled the entrants down to the top 20 per station. The call for entries received an overwhelming response with over 100,000 calls received on the competition lines during the audition period.

Finalists will battle it out over the airwaves while listenersí votes (via the IVR lines) as well as a celebrity judging panel will determine the top performers per station. The competition culminates in the national final on August 14 where the 11 individual station winners will compete to be the first Voice of Choice.




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