Music saved my life

Idols finalist Lloyd Cele faced few choices in the crime-ridden KwaZulu-Natal township where he grew up: a life of common crime and inevitable jail or drug-dealing.

‘‘That’s what happened to everyone in KwaMashu,’’ Lloyd Siyabonga Cele recalls.

Today he’s an Idols finalist and dreaming of giving his son a better life than he knew as a child.

Lloyd (28) broke out of his circumstances just in time, says Pastor Vernon David, who was there 10 years ago when the young singer turned his back on drugs, alcohol and gang violence.

Pastor David is in the front row of the audience every week when Lloyd performs on the Idols stage.

‘‘I’ve had to work through a lot of pain,’’ says Lloyd, with his wife, Janice (28), at his side.

‘‘I have no relationship with my father. I’ve seen him four or five times in my life. He was never there to take me to the park, play soccer with me or give me fatherly advice.’’

One of the reasons he entered Idols was to be a better dad to his son, Levi (1), and give his family a better future.

He and Janice, who’s Indian, met six years ago. Their relationship wasn’t plain sailing though – they were often targets of racist remarks.

‘‘We’d be walking hand in hand in a shopping centre and I’d hear someone say I was with an Indian woman only because I didn’t want to pay lobola,’’ Lloyd says.

He works at an IT company.

As an Idols finalist his dream of a career in music is now within reach.

‘‘There’s no way I can go back to my day job after Idols,’’ he says firmly. ‘‘Now more than ever I need to pursue music.’’

He has been musical director at his church for several years and wants to produce a gospel CD as well as other music.

‘‘I’ll never forget my roots. That’s where I started and where I’ll always go back to.’’

Read the full story in YOU, 23 September 2010.