On July 20th, 2013 I auditioned for the country’s most happening reality TV talent search; Dreams. It had been my dream since I was a little boy to participate in a musical competition. After over half a decade of wistful thinking, the chance had finally arrived. When I walked into the auditorium, I was filled with anxiety. It was almost overwhelming for me to step up in front of the judges and give it my best shot. My mind was filled with so much thought. I could not fail to make it through, not at the first audition. Moreover, I had been following news feed on the competition since the previous year when the show was launched. I could not make it to the first season because I had school and the exams where underway – I was winding up my second semester at the University of Zambia – I wanted not to jeopardize my academic performance. I walked in front of the judges with ease and sung Westlife’s “us against the world”. I got all three yes’s. It was glory!
The journey towards the unforeseen lane began after the breaking down of top 50. The number was reduced to 15 and I made it through. I could not wait to start the stage performances. My overly expectant raw mind was filled with vague opinions on what I was getting into. But it was not the perfect time to start entertaining second thoughts. After all, I had already suspended my end of second year internship as per requirement in my course in the University. At this moment, it was now or never – there was no turning back.
I was very excited to be among the top 15 and those going into boot camp. It was simply a fulfillment of my expectation. My friends where very supportive; all of them. So that even when I announced that I had a dilemma, having to choose between proceeding with my internship (which would not have allowed me to participate in Dreams) or to move on with the show, the majority thought it would be worthwhile to give way to the other element in my being – music. It was only my family who I had to reason with before they could give me the green light. Then I took the leap of courage and told myself that whatever happened along the way, I would not regret my decision. It was almost after a month when the top 15 fifteen was finally called to boot camp.
Immediately after settling into camp, it was announced to us that we would soon start our stage performances. It was intimidating. The top fifteen had very good and talented singers and it was no joke that the ride would be bumpy. However, it was not the competition that should have captured my adrenaline, but the stress and the pressure brought along with it.
The weeks I spent in the show, gave me a broader conception of how challenging and aggressive it is to be in the limelight, and not to get started with the stress. Blurred by the glitz and glitter are massive amounts of heartbreak, disappointment and criticism. It takes more than talent and ambition for one to make it successfully on the spotlight. You get to face a lot of negative and unfavorable commentary, among other things. In fact, in my own opinion, I think that on Zambia’s soils, you get more negative energy than positive no matter how good you may be at an endeavor; I do not know why it is that way. I had had a lecture within myself on this notion before I made final decisions about getting with the show. I just never really so it coming upon me.
It is not an easy thing to be in the limelight. It is hard especially for a person like me who is exceptionally different and an attraction of witty controversy. In my own right, I paid no particularly innate attention to negative criticism, though I was very consciously watchful of every audience I performed before and I uninterestedly waited for the bad commentary.
One time I was going through Facebook, while I was still in the show. I came across a very unfavorable comment about me on the Dreams Zambia page. It said that I was only impressing the judges and not the audience and the viewers. It was posted by a male whose identity I cannot reveal, it’s not worth it. I was startled. I got very tense after seeing that comment to the extent that my next performance was affected. I kept thinking about what I could do to impress the people. I felt reduced and thought that I was not good at all. When I went to the stage later that week, I had a lot to deal with on my mind. There were technical problems and thinking of that comment, I couldn’t help but breakdown on stage. But it wasn’t extreme, I managed to pull myself together and carried on with my performance.
One night we went to perform at Miss Fairview with the other contestants. This was at top seven. I was nervous. When I saw the local artists who started their performances before us, I was worried about how the audience would take us, particularly me. I thought they would consider us boring. So I questioned: “is this the right crowed for me?” but it turned out that the response wasn’t so bad at all. When I finished singing my song – the redemption song, I noticed that a man was shouting something to me from across. I figured he was talking about the song I’d just sung. So, I decided to walk up to him and hear what he had to say. I was scared though that he might get depraved. He said to me that the song was very good and he liked my voice and delivery of the song. His disapproval was on the way I was dressed for the song. I was wearing chains over my jeans. He said that Bob Marley was a down to Earth person and he never wore chains, so I should keep it simple when I perform his songs. I appreciated that advice and I was only glad that he meant not to say anything I would find offensive. Later that night, I got pulled to the side by a handful more people commending me on that performance.
The most unpredictable audience was the Tuesday audience of Arcades during the recordings of the show. You would not predict what comments they may pass about you and you just never get the idea what they are whispering about you. But I managed to get what some people said about me on a couple of occasions, including the night that I was evicted from the show. It is a little disappointing to hear someone from the audience exclaim that you must be the one to be evicted during eviction. But that is just the nature of most Zambians; they find it easier to show hate than love especially when you try to step out of the box for a while. I was out rightly categorized with the females on a few occasions. I was stated to be a girl by a few people especially guys. It is not a favorable thing to hear someone say that about you – I have an idea of how Justine Bieber feels and it’s not good. But I am a very passive person and I am proud of how I was created.
Being in the limelight is not easy. It takes a certain degree of passivity in order to swerve heartaches and stress. It is important to know that people have opinions but whatever opinion they have of you does not make you. What makes you is who you actually – truly are. It is not an obligation that you take each and every piece of advice and believe every opinion. It is up to you to scrutinize and the option to either take it or leave it is yours. Criticism can either build you or destroy you. But the good thing is that you can choose which opinions you think would build you if you consider them by critical scrutiny. After I recovered from that Facebook incidence I forever held my head high and adopted selective deafness to things I thought I could consider sensitive. One thing I got out of the experience is how to be brave and just spontaneous and free. I am glad I never experienced any form of serious deprecate while I was performing on stage. That would have sucked a great deal!