'I didn't think someone from Elsies River could win The Voice' - Craig Lucas

2017-07-12 08:32
Craig Lucas after he was announced as The Voice season two winner. (Supplied)

Craig Lucas after he was announced as The Voice season two winner. (Supplied)

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Cape Town - To many, Elsies River may be synonymous with gangsterism, drugs and poverty, but for Craig Lucas, this corner of the Cape Flats streets is home.

The Voice season 2 winner has been counting down the days until he can return to his hometown, situated about 20km outside of Cape Town.

"I am so honoured to be the one to show the world that there are so many incredible people who live here who just unfortunately don’t have the chance [to make a success of themselves]," he told News24 after a morning filled with numerous interviews and photoshoots following his big win on Sunday.

"I didn't think it was possible for someone from Elsies to enter a competition like this and win it. I know so many other incredible singers who live here, but opportunities don’t show themselves. So much talent here goes to waste."

- Read more: It doesn't feel real - Craig Lucas

Gang violence, substance abuse and violent crimes are common in the community he and his brother grew up in. But he is proud of where he's from, Lucas insisted.

"I just hope that my win inspires some form of hope. I think [young people from Elsies River] tend to start to believe that we don't deserve much because of what is happening around us, that this is just the life that we were meant to live.

"You see the gangsterism [and social ills] and you think there is no way out, or that you shouldn't even bother."

But it was his mother, Jennifer, who always pushed her two sons to put their education first and strive for something better for themselves.

Lucas was three years old when his father died. His close-knit family – most of whom live close by – helped Jennifer raise her children.

"Instead of wandering through the streets, we would always be at an aunt’s house or a cousin’s place. My family is so big, it's somebody’s birthday every two weeks," he quipped.  

Music 'scared me'

"You just didn't want to be anywhere else than with family, and that was what kept us away from all the negative things happening around us."

Jennifer said she couldn’t be more proud of how her children turned out.

"I warned them, 'If you make a bad choice in life, there are going to be bad consequences'. I always told them that, every day. That was my thing," Jennifer remembered.

Today Lucas' older brother is an international welding inspector and Lucas graduated with honours in economics from the University of Cape Town this year.

The Voice was the first singing competition he entered, Lucas said, because he promised his mother he would first complete his studies before pursuing his passion.

- Read more: 7 super quick facts about Craig Lucas

"What I wanted was to make sure that I was able to provide for her one day. Music also scared me - I knew it was a big risk.

"She didn't want to see me struggle the way she did growing up. She told me to go to school, get a job and get stability. So I went to school, I got a degree, did my honours and I got a job. I held up my end of the bargain. Then I went to audition without her knowing," he laughed.

Jennifer said she had always known of her "baby's" love of singing.

"But he first needed to finish his education. The music industry isn't stable – he needed to have something to fall back on," the no-nonsense crèche owner insisted.

But after seeing him win over thousands of voters, she remains his biggest fan.

According to Lucas, his mother seems to be the bigger celebrity.

'I needed her'

"She is more popular than I am. On two occasions when she flew down for the show in Johannesburg, people on the plane stopped her and asked, 'Aren't you that guy [from The Voice's] mother?' She was literally living her best life," he joked.

Jennifer made no secret of how proud she was of her son, enthusiastically applauding and cheering when he took to the stage.

"I was oblivious to the cameras. I was there only for him."

During the finale, Craig sang Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red – his mother's favourite song.

"When I looked at her in the audience and saw her dance [with one of the professional dancers], my tears welled up. You can't really sing when you're crying; my voice went for a bit there," he recalled.

"I told myself not to look that way again or else I just would have started crying."  

When he was announced as the winner a short while later, Jennifer was the first person he looked for.

"I heard that they said my name, but it didn't register. When it hit, I called out to my mom. It felt like I needed her to hold me up," he said.

"She was right in the front and came onto the stage when they announced it. She told me to stop crying, that this was a good thing. But I was sobbing. I was looking down and hiding my face, but she said, 'Open your eyes, soak it in, this is your moment'. So I did."

Jennifer said seeing her son under the lights and streamers was the proudest moment of her life.

'Still my baby'

"Yoh, I was ecstatic. Speechless. I knew he was good, but I didn't imagine he was going to win.  

"And when he asked for me, when he called for his mommy...He is 24 but he was looking for me, his mommy!"

Lucas resigned from his job as a planner at Naartjie two weeks ago to pursue singing full-time, whether he won the competition or not.

Now that he has taken the title, his next challenge is to find the moves to go with the voice.

"I used to have severe performance anxiety and couldn't sing on stage. Now I can. But I am still a terrible dancer," he admitted.

Getting used to being a celebrity is also not as easy as it sounds, and he finds photoshoots especially "awkward".

Jennifer doesn't want to give too many details of what awaits Craig when he gets home, but Elsies River residents who on Sundays streamed to local clubs which opened their doors to allow those without DStv to see their hero in action, are excited to welcome him back, she revealed.

"I am ready to share him with everyone, with the whole of South Africa, because it’s because of them that he is where he is today. But to me, he is still my baby."

Read more on:    craig lucas  |  cape town  |  good news

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