He was given a second chance in life and isn’t about to let it go to waste.
Shiraaj Andrews from Eastridge was an avid sportsman when tragedy struck in 2007.
During a rugby match he was tackled and took a blow to the head that he shrugged off for a few days.
“My friend died from a head injury a few weeks prior and I knew I needed to just stay alert and [keep my brain active] and focused. I did not tell my mom or anyone else because I was scared of the outcome. After a few days the pain was so bad, I asked her to take me to the hospital,” says Andrews.
He was immediately sent for a scan and it was discovered Andrews had suffered a skull fracture.
“The doctor told my mom it did not look good,” he says.
But his strong will to survive and his passion for life aided in his full recovery.
“I remember realising that I was given a second chance and I immediately told myself that I needed to do something constructive and be better and treat people better and change my outlook on life,” he says.
Now the 25-year-old is using his passion for music to realise his dreams.
“My journey started when I was very young. Around 10 years old I found my passion for music, even though I could not sing at the time. I would record music from the radio and then if there was something new we would put in the same cassette and record over it to keep up to date,” he says.
He started his schooling career and loved art, specifically sketching, and sports.
His accident happened when he was in Grade 11 and it was a “massive turning point” in his life.
“I should have died that day,” he says.
He kept true to his promise and decided to be a better person.
He says, although strange, up until 2009 he had no vocal abilities.
“Until that point, I could not sing and in 2009 I could sing. Not brilliantly because I was still rough at that stage, but I could sing. I think it is because I had been studying music with the ear from a young age but it is almost as if God kept away my singing talent until that year and then he blessed me with it,” he says.
He had his first gig with the band he was with in Macassar in 2010.
“I was introduced to music through the boy band,” he says.
They did not have a name and were given the name Exposed by an MC at one of the shows.
The band also auditioned on South Africa’s Got Talent with a drag act and made it to the stage auditions.
In 2014 they had performed all over Cape Town, including at the Baxter Theatre.
“The group started fading and I developed a stronger passion for the craft. I asked them if the band was still going to continue because they were not that serious about it anymore and then I decided to do my own thing. I started writing my own music and worked on my first single, ‘Heartbreaker’,” he says.
And then Bruno Raaj was born.
He started with collaborations and his own single was left by the wayside.
Now two years later he has finally released his first song.
His lyrics are emotional and based on his life and experiences.
He also did a collaboration with Rocklands artist Beeza.
His hopes are to work on more songs and produce music videos.
He admits the industry is tough to break into but he is determined to make it work.
“Everything I do, I do it to my full potential and perform as if it was my last,” he says.
He hopes to work on more tracks and produce a music video before the end of the year.