Will Sonke’s headgear help him win Idols?

2013-09-15 14:01

As Idols reaches the business end of the competition, one contestant is desperate for the title that will enable him to fulfil a promise he made to his grandmother many years ago.

Sonke Mazibuko (21), who is known for his signature traditional Zulu headgear, is one of the show’s top 16 finalists.

Other contenders include an apprentice farrier, a maths boffin, a science teacher and a punk rocker who speaks openly about her brush with a sexually transmitted disease.

Sonke, a member of the Grammy award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir, once performed as a backing vocalist for Canadian diva Celine Dion.

His singing supports his unemployed mother, Nomafonto, jobless uncle Mafika, two sisters and his baby brother.

“Everything I have, I bring to my mother,” he says.

His father passed away two years ago and the family lives in a four-room house in Senaoane, Soweto.

“My father also sang in a church choir,” he says. Sonke says his beloved Zulu headgear was a gift from a friend who bought it at a market in Newtown in Joburg’s inner city.

“I always wear it, at home, at school, and now for Idols. I love it because it makes me stand out.”

He says Idols changed his life: “People look at me with respect. It is a dream come true and I love seeing the joy in my mother’s face.”

Watching television with his family as a youngster inspired Sonke to pursue a career in music. “When I was a little boy, I promised my gogo that one day I would buy her a house in the suburbs. I was about six and had big dreams after watching singers on television. She isn’t with us any more, but I would like to keep my promise to my family,” he says.

Sonke and the other 15 finalists beat thousands of hopefuls at auditions in Sandton, Soweto, Cape Town and Durban.

Blonde-and-pink-haired Tauna Collier (26), who runs a stable yard in Tableview near Cape Town and fronts a musical duo called Fire ‘n Styx, had to postpone plans to enter Idols last year. “I couldn’t enter last year because I was diagnosed with precancer of the cervix because I have human papilloma virus. Actually, I would love to educate young girls about this danger.”

Collier has since been declared in good health.

Another finalist, Philip Dube (20) from Kempton Park, was forced to quit his studies in computational and applied mathematics at the University of Johannesburg because he ran out of money for his fees.

Meanwhile, apprentice farrier Benjamin Tainton (19) from Noordhoek in Cape Town bought his first cellphone especially for Idols and Crystalene Nair (24), a science teacher at Richmond Combined School in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, said music had always been her first love.

The Idols winner will be announced on November 26.

The show’s judges are razor-tongued Randall Abrahams, glamorous Metro FM breakfast host Unathi Msengana and 5FM breakfast jock Gareth Cliff.

Meet the top 16 Idols

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» Talk to us: Who will you vote for to win this year's Idols competition?

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