Time to sink or swim

2009-10-30 07:53

AS THE world recovers from the excited caused by Susan Boyle, who was runner-up in ­Britain’s Got Talent ­earlier this year, local organisers of the show are hoping for the same kind of success, if not better.
Boyle took the world by storm with her ­angelic voice. The dowdy, middle-aged spinster also made people realise that talent is not manufactured in a recording studio.

Boyle has since blasted into the stratosphere of stardom and will be releasing her new album, I Dreamed a Dream, on November 23. The ­album ­has already reached the bestsellers list on online shopping site Amazon.com, with tens of thousands of pre-order copies sold.

SA’s Got Talent, a carbon copy of the British show, has three judges: Shado Twala, Ian von Memerty and former Idols judge Randall Abrahams. The judges pick and choose who will go into the next round from the thousands who auditioned and ultimately the viewers get to vote for the final winner. The prize is R250?000. But more than that, winning the series means a chance at stardom.

South Africa’s blend of talent is varied, says Twala, who is an established media and public relations personality. “Luckily South Africa is such a culturally diverse nation so we had people who could dance and sing but also include their own cultural element into their performances. People in South Africa practise their crafts and really give it their all.”

The only female judge on the show, Twala joined SA’s Got Talent after being out of the television industry for some time. “I was offered the opportunity and thought it would be an excellent way to get back into TV.”

Twala currently hosts Shado’s Sunday on Heart 104.9 FM. The former media liaison officer for the Western Cape premier admits that it is children who get to her the most on the show.

“When it comes to kids they are all winners because it takes so much courage to get up there and perform and I really admire them.”

Twala, who has become synonymous with the phrase ”you’ve got three votes, you’re through to the next round”, says it is difficult to point out a single winner at this stage. ­However, there are three contestants who stand out in the show. Their stories will touch the hearts of many South ­African audiences and are most likely to be in the top 21 of the competition which will be revealed this week.  

After chatting with Barend van Vuuren, one can’t help but fall in love with him. This down-to-earth 50-year-old grew up in Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth. He left school at the age of 10 to become a newspaper ­vendor.

He later returned to school after raising some money to help him through his studies. He then studied for a Diploma in Education at ­Dower College in the city.

Van Vuuren now teaches arts and culture as well as life ­orientation in George full-time.

“I chose poetry because I have always been a fan of the ­spoken word. I read a lot and have always written my own stuff,” he says.

More importantly Van Vuuren says he wanted to show the children he teaches that they can achieve whatever they want.

“If I had to win the money I would cry first and then I would build an arts and culture centre for the children in my area.”
Could he take the prize? Well, that remains to be seen as he still has to make it to the next round.

Dancing with snakes and dogs

The 24-year-old was adopted by his mother’s employees who, soon after realising that he could sing, sent him to study music overseas. He is charming and friendly.

“It was a coincidence that I ­entered, I didn’t even realise the South African version was starting and I just made the cut-off date for entry. I was in England studying at the time when the UK version was on. I knew that I had to enter if it came to South Africa,” he says.

Ngcungama attributes his ­passion for opera to his adoptive father, who would play Luciano ­Pavarotti for him as a little boy.
“I was devastated when Pavarotti died – he was my inspiration. I feel like I learnt singing from him.”

Ngcungama is on the board of the South Africa/Washington ­internship programme at the ­University of Cape Town and if he had to win the money he would donate a portion of the proceeds to the association. His voice is enough to induce goosebumps and his life story is one which is fit for a winner.

Representing Jozi in the competition, Gregory Mabusela plays the keke horn, which he taught himself to play. He entered the contest because he wanted to showcase his talent to South Africa and make his mother proud.

Born and bred in Naledi, Soweto, Mabusela made the instrument himself in Grade 6 for an arts and culture project.
He says: “I play the keke horn and I am currently in a band. My mother works on a part-time basis so I use the keke to make some income for her and my ­sisters.”

The 21-year-old says he saw the ad on TV for auditions and decided to give it a go.

“If I had to win the money I would definitely help my mother and sisters so that they can have all that they’ve wanted.”
South African audiences’ heart strings will be tugged at. See you in the next round Gregory!

Some of the weirdest and wackiest people have auditioned for SA’s Got Talent and left the nation saying “huh?”

Lori Kay, 42, from Cape Town came on stage in a skimpy belly dancing outfit with a reptile wrapped around her. She shook her hips and somehow the snake, Viken, moved along with her. She moved onto the next round and left viewers in awe of her ability to control both her hips and that snake.

Clifton Conolly from Durban juggled while unicycling in a clown suit! It had the crowd in stitches and when Ian von Memerty gave the 29-year-old the nod for the next round, ­audiences couldn’t help but applaud in delight.

Mzwan­dile Mbodlana,18, from Cape Town impressed with his crazy soccer skills but took it a step further when he stripped at the same time. It was awesome and original and left audiences wanting more.

Ingrid Rosendahl and Yvonne Burger from Jozi kept the crowds going as they danced together and then got their sheepdogs to perform with them. It was cute, adorable and really who doesn’t love a dog that can dance?

Fire Tribe who are also from Cape Town sent crowds into a frenzy (or was that panic?) when they took to the stage, lit up their batons and almost set the roof on fire! Funky, fresh and fierce – and we loved it!

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