Chit Chat: Lynn Brooks

2011-08-05 14:44

She overcame a life-threatening disease to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. She beat hundreds of contestants to become the only South African among 23 semifinalists from 17 countries in the Avon Voices competition. <strong>Mokgadi Seabi</strong> talks to her

At 32, you’ve had a late start to your ­career. Why now?
I’ve always been singing at one place or another. This is certainly not my first competition. I come from a musically inclined family, where most of my family members play some instrument or sing. Music is in my blood. Even now, I lead the church choir in Mitchells Plain, where I live.

What other competitions did you enter and how far did you get?

I entered Shell Road to Fame when I was 11 years old and went to the regional finals. I also ­entered Idols in 2005, the same year Karin Kortje won. I only got to the first round. The judges thought I would not be able to balance travelling and raising my first child.

Didn’t Karin Kortje have a child?
Yes, I thought that was ­contradictory of them. Maybe it just wasn’t my time.

After your Idols disappointment, how did you continue to chase your dream of singing?
When I joined the company I work for five years ago, they had an in-house singing competition. I recorded myself and sent in my CD. A few days later, I was told I made the finals. The late TK and Danny K were the judges, and they picked me as the winner.

How did you get involved with the Avon Voice competition?

Three years ago, I signed up to be a sales lady, but I only did that on and off. Earlier this year, when I took an active interest in sales, my team leader showed me the ­entry form at the back of the ­brochure and asked if I wanted to enter the competition. I took the brochure home to my husband and he immediately encouraged me to enter.

How gruelling was the process?

From the start, my husband and two children – a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter – have been very supportive. They have been fantastic.

Having been chosen over so many women from around the world, what was the next stage?
After the first round, we were flown to Paris to get a makeover and record videos for the next round. Although we had a tight schedule, we managed to check out the Eiffel Tower. Paris is such a fun and romantic city.

How did you and your fellow competitors celebrate the ­semifinal announcement?
The semifinal announcement came a few weeks ago. After that, we were flown to Hollywood, where we were taken shopping for a whole wardrobe we got to keep. We also did a photo shoot, which was exciting. People there really treated us like stars, the whole lights, camera, action! That was the most amazing experience.

What did you get out of being in Hollywood?
We had an opportunity to record the last video before the finals with full make-up, a new wardrobe and a full band. We recorded with people you only ever hear about on TV and radio, such as Grammy-nominated female percussionist Sheila E, Grammy-winning singer/composer and music producer ­David Pack and Colombian singing star Maia. It was very overwhelming.

Would you consider this the most momentous event of your life so far?
Absolutely not! Four years ago, I found out that I had sarcoidosis, a disease that attacks the lymph nodes. It caused my legs to swell up and break out into huge sores.

I was bedridden for two weeks. I couldn’t take care of my family. It took me a whole year to recover after the doctor put me on ­treatment. I still have the scars.
That sounds dramatic!

It was. That is why I’m not overwhelmed by waiting for the results of the finalists at the end of ­August. The support of my family and church has carried me, and I hope the rest of the country will be just as supportive. If I get through, there’s the final hurdle on November 2, when they choose two winners to record an album. I hope I become one of them.

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