KAILA! Star Search started with much enthusiasm last night as 17 acts took to the stage to perform in the first of two heats of the singing competition.
The large crowd that gathered at Suva's Civic Centre was thoroughly entertained as the four dance groups and 13 vocalists performed their acts with live acoustic music.
Rishikul Sanatan College student Fane Volau, who sang a gospel number from The Martins titled This is the promise, said the crowd had helped calm her nerves when she took to the stage.
"It was a good experience for me and I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and especially the wonderful crowd."
The Sunday Times editor, Ruby Taylor-Newton, said the newspaper was proud to be associated with the competition as its major sponsor.
"Kaila! is for young minds and we are in the business of encouraging and helping our young people to be the best they can be," Mrs Taylor-Newton said."Kaila! Star Search has been a platform for aspiring talents over the years and has produced some of our local music industry's favourites."
Vude Queen and Kaila! Star Search mentor Laisa Vulakoro said this year's competition will be more interesting than the previous years as vocalists would sing only with live acoustic guitar back-up in their first performances.
"They are talented and gifted, and each has their unique sound and I really love that about this year's competition," Ms Vulakoro said.
"Kaila! Star Search is an opportunity for young, artistic individuals to project and somehow launch their budding careers. It is also an avenue to help these young people gain recognition etc. We really would like to encourage people to come down to support and watch them showcase their talents."
In the quarter-finals, where only 20 acts will compete, vocalists will only be backed up by two musicians, one on keyboard and a guitarist. 15 acts will advance to the semifinals, and they will perform with back-up tracks.
Ms Vulakoro said in the competition's final, the 10 acts that made it through would be backed by a live band.
Heat Two of the competition will be held next Saturday.