Xola Toto a hidden gem in the Idols top 17

The twins Viggy and Virginia Qwabe are undoubtedly the most popular among the budding hopefuls of the Idols Top 17 and rightfully so.

With every performance the star-power pair move audiences with their commanding voices and confidence, baring their hearts on stage.

However, I’ve always found the underdogs lurking in the shadows to be more alluring.

One of these is Palesa Xola Toto. I first came across her in the Idols auditions last year.

This year she took a leap of faith by giving it another shot.

It takes guts to perform any Jennifer Hudson song, let alone the Dreamgirls ballad Giving Myself.

Toto did so with an unrivalled charm and grace last Sunday, showing us that she not only has the vocal range but the tenacity to make it all the way to the top.

I’ve been sold ever since.

Born and bred in Delft, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, the singer cited the late Brenda Fassie, Lira, Jill Scott and Nathi as some of her greatest musical influences.

Songs about love, family, community and unity appeal to her mission – which is to truly bring people together through music.

Asked what she would do with her prize money should she win the competition, she said that she would build a home for her mother and siblings.

Her gentle nature is strikingly contrasted with the omnipotent vocal presence that sets the stage on fire week after week and draws you in.

This is further proof that she was born for this.

Toto has a sultry, jazzy voice that can easily move between registers. She has the potential to be a crossover artist with heart and soul in her music.

Palesa Xola Toto hopes to go all the way in this year’s Idols

There’s a popular saying that goes: “You’re only as good as your last performance.” If this is anything to go by, Toto will certainly give the other contestants a run for their money.

This was echoed by the judges.

“You sounded like a highly seasoned performer. You looked the part and you looked so confident.

“I don’t know how South Africans will make their choice, but you set the stage on fire,” Somizi said.

Randall agreed: “It was a really good performance; in terms of confidence, nothing seemed to faze you.”

Unathi enthused: “Some of the greatest love songs are in music and we hear this through musicians such as Portia Monique and Stephanie Mills and that’s the class that you had. Don’t let anyone psyche you out, you are incredible!”

Toto is no novice to Idols, she was in the Top 31 last year.

The 21-year-old’s upward trajectory in the competition is evidence of her growth, talent and maturity. It seems she’s also had a stroke of luck the second time around.

“Now I feel so overwhelmed, mixed emotions, at the same time I am nervous, the competition is tough. The contestants are so talented, but I believe that I also have something special to bring to South Africa,” she said in an interview with Daily Voice.

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