Vlastimil Horvath, the winner of this year's Pop Idol contest in the Czech Republic had the packed sports hall in Prague's Vystaviste on it feet on Sunday night with the hits The Final Countdown and Love is all Around.
One of the hot favourites from the start, the 27 year old warehouse employee won over thousands of fans from the first round of the competition when he completely forgot the lyrics to Mandy and managed to give a convincing performance with an on-the-spot improvisation. Although the four member jury initially labelled Horvath "a heartbreaker" whose forte was performing love songs, the dark eyed young Romany soon convinced them that he could handle other music genres equally well. Following a particularly powerful performance a member of the jury Ondrej Soukup said there were only two male singers in the Czech Republic with a three and a half octave range - Kamil Strihavka and up and coming Vlastik Horvath. Another juror, Michal Horackek said he'd be proud to send him to the International Pop Idol Contest as the Czech Republic's representative -indeed that he would be honoured to carry his bags.
Vlasta Horvath's powerful voice, intensity and spontaneity, his artistic and emotional experience got him to the top despite fierce competition. Those who predicted that he would drop out because of ingrained prejudice against Romanies turned out to be wrong. Nevertheless, there are many who say that his victory is an important precedent for the Czech Republic. The nation has embraced a Roma Pop Idol and a member on the panel expressed the view that unwittingly Vlasta Horvath had done more for the Romany community than all our politicians and minority rights activists put together. Vlasta Horvath is on his way to being a major star and like last year's winner of the first Pop Idol competition Aneta Langerova he is expected to remain true to himself and avoid the trappings of the Pop Idol contest. Fans will now anxiously await the release of his first album.
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