BY GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR
ELEGANT, soulful and confident are apt words to describe petite Mercy Chinwo. She has Joe Blue to beat for the Nigerian Idol crown; and possibly, become a hot target for the paparazzi pack, who’ll obviously mass around her performance venues, outings, clothing, eating habits and, sure, turn her love life to a national soap opera. She’ll also be the bout of bloggers and online journalists.
After her performance this evening, Mercy walked towards the judges for interview. Her heart beat in a rather funny way. Before she reached where they sat, there was a prolonged clapping of hands, and she saw people on the middle row rise to applaud her.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw an expensively dressed lady, in a one-shoulder gown, which seemed to have been specially split at the side to reveal her long legs shout ‘Fabulous Mercy!’
Jeffrey Daniel, one of the judges of Nigerian Idol, had christened her Fabulous after she wonderfully delivered Beyonce’s Halo.
“Oh, Mercy! Mercy!!” She yelled.
That evening, there was a certain assured, possessive air in her performance of emotionally charged version of Whitney Houston’s I look to you. Mercy also superbly choreographed and flawlessly rendered Amerie’s One Thing.
To cap up what was already an extraordinary show, the fearless diva zoomed in on a power-bike for an unforgettable remixed version of P’ Square’s Chop my money.
She was commended for a job well done by the guest judge, Audu Maikori, who said Mercy gave the regular song a big performance.
Though energetic, the lady creatively added her own twist to the performance. She left the judges speechless, which made Charly Boy to describe her as the ‘entire show’.
Her performances on Nigerian Idol have been unforgettable, and in fact, suggested why Femi Kuti, called her the future of music after she performed Fela’s Zombie. Rapper and record label owner, MI, also famously offered her a record deal after watching an amazing performance on the show.
There’s no mistaking her smile when she is with the hosts, Ill Rhymz and Tiwa Savage. She blew a kiss of victory, as she’s done since she entered the contest.
“Oh! My God!” she exclaimed, as bold excitement awash her face. Pure joy filled the cool, soft air whispering its way across her final journey to becoming the new Nigerian Idol.
BASED on performances, personality and showmanship, it will be very tough to answer the question of who will win this battle of sexes, which has been on for centuries that also led to the film by Silent Film great, D.W. Griffith; album by the rapper Ludacris and tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
The two contestants have been amazing in their individual ways. Mercy, who is considered the sweetheart of the audience, is not even afraid what the outcome of the battle of sexes will be. She believes she is a born winner.
The 20 years old Ikwerre, Rivers State native brushes her hand very gently, and says, “we are six children from my mother. I’m the first daughter of my mother and fourth child of my father. I have two younger ones.”
She describes her childhood as adventurous and memorable and refers to her father’s death as the turning point in her life, as she speaks, beads of sweat form in her forehead.
“I was the apple of my father’s eyes; he gave me the name, Nnenda, which means ‘father’s mother’ because I reminded him of his mother,” she darts a look back over her shoulders, and whispers: “Daddy supported my singing when he was alive. I lost him at 15 in 2007 and that was when I took music to be my career in order to take care of my younger ones, pay their fees.”
Though it took quite a while of getting used to it, since 2007, when she lost her father to now, she’s racked up a credible profile. This, perhaps, suggests why she joined her local church’s choir, eventually rising to the position of music director for the youth choir of The Apostle Church Student Fellowship of Nigeria (TACSFON).
The palpable cheer was late last year when the Nigerian Idol came calling in Port Harcourt and she knew it was time to let her dreams fly. “I knew it was time to reveal myself to the world,” she says, beaming with smile.
Mercy retorts, her emotions bottled by the last gap qualification, “I was ready for Nigerian Idol and it has been an unbelievable experience for me. I have learnt an amazing lot of things; from stage management to time consciousness to voice training, it has been a wonderful school for me.”
BETWEEN her father’s death and now, Mercy has walked the corridor of dream and reality. She is not afraid to say this: “I see myself on stage with Asa, I also want to be at the Grammy Awards one day. It is possible o!”
Mercy gives a shy smile when she is asked about a boyfriend. “Ah! I don’t know how to answer that question,” she laughs in a high-pitched voice. “I will tell you later.”
Her guiding philosophy in life is to work hard at this stage of her life. “I believe that now is the time to work very hard,” she says, her voice filling out the small space with hope. “There will be a lot of time to play later. I believe I still have a lot to learn and that is what I will do, learn, learn and learn until I become perfect at what I do. I will continue to challenge myself creatively so that I can become better at what I do.”