Another season of I Want to Sing Gospel is upon us and more of the genre’s enthusiasts have come out to try to take the crown. The audition numbers are much larger than before, but the producers are keeping the selected singers to a minimum.

Auditions were held in East London, Durban and Joburg and only five people from each city were chosen. Now out of the audition phase, we go straight into the Top 15 to determine who will be whittled down to find the winner.

Several changes have been made to the show, from the judging panel to the host. Thabo Mdluli, who hosted the previous seasons, is working on Idols SA as a vocal coach and furthering his musical interests so he will not return to the presenter’s seat.

In his place will be actress, Salamina Mosese.

The judging panel boats a revamp – Lindelani Mkhize now takes on the role of talent scout, leaving room for singer Ntokozo Mbambo (pictured), master producer Sipho Makhabane and well known scout, Tshepo Ndzimande.

Sadly, the winner gets to walk away with a mere R200 000 which is a far cry from what other shows of this nature provide. At least there is also a recording contract to help the winner get a foot in the gospel industry.

We caught up with the talented singer and songwriter, Mbambo. She fostered her talents in Joyous Celebration but now flies solo.

Mbambo is no Randall Abrahams, yet her new job requires her to deliver harsh truths to some of the contestants.

“Honestly, it is going to be hard for me to break people’s hearts like that,” she said.

“At first I told the producers I was not sure I wanted to do this because it is hard for me to demoralise someone on TV about a talent which they feel they have. It is not nice, but the bottom line is as much as a few dreams will be broken, there is that one which will be fulfilled and I choose to concentrate on that one.

“My energies will be on finding that person who will grab I Want to Sing Gospel with both hands and take it to greater heights,” she explained.

As a singer with multiple nominations for various awards, Mbambo knows exactly what kind of talent is required in a contestant to make the cut.

“I am looking for someone with something special. There are some things you can’t pinpoint, but there is always that spark about someone; something you can’t explain.

“We are looking for that exceptional person with incredible talent, with the character to back it up. They also have to have the anointing for this show because that is necessary for any gospel singer,” she said.

While looking for a winner, other shows take into consideration talent, personality and looks, but Mbambo explained that I Want to Sing Gospel will not be looking at people’s appearances.

“You do get the pretty ones, but sometimes you realise they are not that talented so we have to let them go. We are looking for someone with incredible singing talent and if you are also good-looking, that’s great, but that’s not our main focus,” she said.

• I Want to Sing Gospel airs every Thursday at 7.30pm on SABC2.