Young artists wow judges, viewers on Chinese-sponsored Zimbabwe talent show

Winners of the 2020 Dreamstar Zimbabwe talent search competition, Nicole Manzungu and Natalie Manzungu, hold up their check after winning the top prize at the annual talent event in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Dec. 17, 2020. (Xinhua/Tarafa Mugwara)
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HARARE, (Xinhua) — It was a dream come true for two sisters, Nicole and Natalie Manzungu when they stunned judges and viewers with their splendid performance at this year’s edition of the Dreamstar Zimbabwe talent search competition.

The upcoming artists, with the stage name Melanin Rush, impressed the judges with their rendition of Best Part by H.E.R and Daniel Caesar, and Say my Name by Destiny’s Child, winning the top prize of the prestigious competition.

“I am very excited, and I am more than happy that I did this with my sisters, and it’s in the family, so it’s something to celebrate,” Natalie said.

The musical group is made up of three sisters, but the other one could not attend the show because she had an examination.

Nicole could not contain her excitement either. “I am overwhelmed actually, I am like this is really happening,” an elated Nicole told Xinhua.

The two proudly walked away with a 4,000 U.S. dollars prize money, while the first runner-up went home with 1,500 dollars. The second runner-up walked away with 750 dollars.

Finalists of the Dreamstar Zimbabwe talent search competition are seen on stage during the grand finale of the event in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Dec. 17, 2020. (Xinhua/Tarafa Mugwara)

The grand finale, which was held earlier this month without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was broadcasted on Friday. The televised event saw 17 young artists groups battling it out for the coveted prizes in such genres as music and dance.

The Chinese-sponsored talent search, now in its seventh season, showcases young contestants between the ages of 12 and 40 and receives thousands of young talented hopefuls each year looking to claim the top prize.

The organizer of the Dreamstar Competition Steve Zhao said that despite constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the show was a huge success.

Founded by Zhao in 2014, the show has been pivotal in empowering young Zimbabwean artists in realizing their talents.

Zhao said the Dreamstar does not just aim to promote local talents but also aims at promoting Zimbabwe-China cultural relations.

“I always believe that for country to country, for people to people to know each other, the best way to do it is to know each other’s culture.

“So cultural exchange is very important. So that’s why we started this program seven years ago,” Zhao said.

Over the years, Dreamstar has grown to become the flagship project of China-Zimbabwe cultural exchange, and its popularity has grown phenomenally among young Zimbabwean artists.

Since its inception, Dreamstar has helped some of Zimbabwe’s talented artists to sign lucrative contracts with some Chinese arts and cultural agents and as well as some in America.

Winners of the contest have also benefited from educational scholarships offered by Dreamstar with support from the Chinese government.

Speaking on behalf of the group that took the second prize, Patience Nyandoro said Dreamstar provides young Zimbabwean artists with a unique platform to showcase their various artistic talents.

“We are very happy by the way Dreamstar is promoting Zimbabwean talents.”

“We are just hoping that next time we will be the ones who will be awarded scholarships to go for a tour in China and I am just hoping that the show will continue and they will continue supporting talents,” Nyandoro said.

Under the Dreamstar program, the Chinese government this year awarded full scholarships to three young artists who were selected from the previous sessions of the competition.

Dreamstar Zimbabwe is organized by the China Africa Economic and Culture Exchange Research Center, the Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation in partnership with the Chinese Embassy and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.