Hymnodia, the first-ever reality TV show created around hymns and worship reached its climax at its Season one grand finale on April 24 at the MUSON Centre Lagos, with Kenneth Ekhuemelo (hymntestant no 6) beating all comers to win the grand prize, the ASAPH, at a fiercely-contested show which saw other hymntestants (contestants) painstakingly showcasing their talents in diverse dimensions of hymn rendition. a bid to outwit their counterparts.
In addition to the ASAPH, a specially designed award named after David’s chief musician, the prize for Ekhuemelo included a cash reward of N5 million and a brand-new car.
The grand finale was a colourful concert of hymns tagged the Hymncert, which ended the 14-week show piece that offered triple ‘E’ (entertainment, education and edification) benefits to its continuously growing fan base.
The duo of Kenneth and Olumide ‘the baritone’ Dada, have been sustaining their high tempo among the hymntestants in the closing stanzas of the Hymnodia competition, breaking away from the with different twist of renditions in classical and contemporary hymns.
At the final concert, it came down to two of them despite the spirited renditions by the other Top 5 finalists, Mobolanle Oladimeji (who came third), Abigael Nnadi and Rachael Darley. After Olumide had belted a superb rendition to a standing ovation by the judges and the audience, it seemed the prize was his for the taking. That was until Kenneth took the stage and splayed his own superlative rendition. The die was cast. The race was tight and the decision depended on a combination of public votes and the judges’ scores and the night favoured Kenneth, the bazofundo who was almost hymnvicted (evicted) from the Hymnstitute twice on the admission day.
After receiving the ASAPH and his other prizes, Ekhuemelo stated: “Firstly, l am grateful to God and have to really thank Him for this opportunity to showcase and enhance my talent. I commend Hymnodia for this great opportunity. I am also grateful to my family and those that appreciate me.”
Eulogising Ekhuemelo, Sunday Olawuwo, a music director and one of the judges said: “l must confess you added fuel to the stage that has already been set on fire.”
Seun Owoaje, Music Director of Hymnodia, said Ekhuemelo’s rendition was absolutely fantastic. “Your appearance was like that of a Roman conqueror. You fought doggedly and had the right confidence of a great singer. You did very well throughout”.
On their part, legendary musician Onyeka Onwenu and Dupe Ige Kachi (popularly known as Ige Sings) not only stood up for Kenneth after his rendition, but also extolled him for his excellent performance.
Also not left out in the emotion was Benneth Ogbeiwi, Dean of the Hymnstitute (who compered the Hymncert personally) who showered accolades on Ekhuemelo. He affirmed that all the hymntestants did well but there could be just one winner, which was Kenneth.
One of the highlights of the Hymncert was the presentation of awards to hymntestants that had excelled during their time at the Hymnstitute.
Kenneth Ekhuemelo received the award for Best in Arrangements, Uduakobong Akpan Jnr received the ‘Most Improved Male’ award, Jemine Edukugho ‘Most Improved Female,’ while Dada received two awards: the ‘Most Consistent in Performances’ and ‘Best Behaved Male’. Nnadi clinched the ‘Best Behaved Female’ while Oladimeji secured the ‘Most Prolific in Hymnwriting.’
The Hymncert was enriched with superb ministrations from the Hymnodia Choir, the Mountain Top Chorale, the Lagos Archdiocesan Catholic Church Choir, the Cathedral Church Choir, Marina and the Royal School of Church Music choir for Nigeria. Perhaps the biggest draw of the night outside the hymntestants themselves was the Divine Symphony Orchestra from the Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries that thrilled the audience with both fresh and popular hymns, a twist that was highly applauded.
In the stanzas, hymnviction from the show was by public votes after the judges had announced a probation list. Likewise, the finale that produced the winner was via a combination of public votes and judges’ scores. The Hymnodia process was audited by the reputable firm of Gbenga Badejo & Co.