From Limpopo to the top of the world: Ndlovu Youth Choir's incredible rise to international stardom!

Ndlovu Youth Choir (Photo: gallo Images)
Ndlovu Youth Choir (Photo: gallo Images)

Cape Town – One of the most inspiring entertainment stories of 2019 is that of the Ndlovu Youth Choir and their incredible voices being recognised all over the world. 

From their humble beginnings in rural Limpopo to being signed by one of the biggest record labels in the music industry.

We'll take a closer look at the viral video that announced their entrance onto the world stage, their time on America's Got Talent, and what 2020 holds for them. 


The Ndlovu Choir was established in Moutse Valley in rural Limpopo, over a decade ago in January 2009. 

Formed by the Ndlovu Care Group's child care community programme to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds the same opportunities as their more advantaged counterparts. 

Who are the choristers? Thirty talented, underprivileged teenagers and young adults from ages fourteen until twenty-four. 


Ndlovu's incredible 2019 was preceded by a significant moment in the latter half of the previous year on 15 October 2018 when everything changed.

That's when Grammy-winning South African musician uploaded a video of himself and the young, vibrant group performing a Zulu version of Ed Sheeran's hit song Shape of You and it went viral. 

Wouter told Channel24 about the collaboration: "I gave them a call, they are so talented, and I wanted to work with them on this – we filmed it and released it - and it just took off." 


On 20 November they won the Best Independent Music Video for their version of Shape of You at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards took place at The Avalon in Hollywood, California.


The viral video currently sits on over 4 million views, and the producers of reality competition of America's Got Talent asked them to audition for the 2019 season of the show after watching it. 

Their audition video for the show currently sits on over 9 million views on YouTube and their incredible journey on the show – all the way to the final – captured the imagination of the show's global audience. 


Channel24 caught up with the members of the choir at an intimate breakfast in Sandton in July of 2019. 

"We have received the most amazing messages of encouragement. One of the most beautiful ones was when someone said, 'South Africa needs another 2010, and this is it'," Ralf Schmitt, the group's musical director said.

The choir – who had a rollercoaster ride to that final – posted on their Twitter about their journey: "Our @AGT journey may have come to an end, but this is only the beginning. We are so excited for what lies ahead, and we look forward to continuing sharing love, unity and above all hope."


After losing out in the final, it was confirmed that the group had been offered a deal with Simon Cowell's record label Syco Entertainment which is a global joint venture together with Sony Music Entertainment Africa.Simon, who is one of the judges on the reality show, has produced and promoted albums for various singers, as well as signed One Direction and more.

Chatting to Joanne Joseph on radio 702, Ralf Schmitt said: "We are very excited that Simon Cowell and his company have exercised their option to sign the choir and together with Sony Music in South Africa are working on exciting projects," he said.

They released their debut album, titled Africa, on the label in November of 2019 and achieved critical acclaim. 

ALSO READ: Ndlovu Youth choir gets R1m cheque as they arrive back home.


Who knows what 2020 might bring for the choir? 

One thing is for sure, we'll be rooting for them and loving every moment. 

READ NEXT: From Huku to John Cena: Tracking Sho Madjozi's path to viral stardom.

Compiled by Alex Isaacs. (Sources:Channel24,The Juice, 702)

Photo: Getty/Gallo Images

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