It’s hard to imagine such a powerful voice coming from such a little person, but nine-year-old Gugulethu Ndzendze has a voice that hits you right in the feels.
The East London girl has became an internet sensation after her mom, Fundiswa, shared a video on Facebook of her rehearsing at their family church. In the video, the Grade 3 learner can be heard singing the aria O Mio Babbino Caro (Italian for “oh my dear papa”) from the opera Gianni Schicchi.
When Fundiswa (37), a social work manager at the department of social development, shared the video, she had no idea of the response she’d receive.
“I just wanted to share the talent the child has,” the proud mom tells YOU. “It’s so overwhelming [seeing the response]. We’re so astonished. Daily, there are media houses calling us for interviews. It’s an answered prayer.”
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Gugulethu’s talent began emerging when she was just five. She could often be heard singing around the house and she loves nothing more than to perform with her parents and siblings, Ndalo (10) and Siluvuko (3).
Her father, Bongani (46), who works as a correctional officer at the department of correctional services, is also a gospel singer, and for years, the family have been singing gospel together.
When asked who her favourite singer is, his youngest daughter doesn’t hesitate to name her dad.
“Gugulethu would back me or she’d sing her own song and I’d play the piano or keyboard. She was surrounded by music,” Bongani says. “She started singing in church like all other children, but as parents we saw [her talent] long ago.”
Gugulethu, who attends Voorpos Primary School, sings in the kid’s ministry at church and sometimes performs as a soloist.
Singing with her family also seems to have given the young girl the confidence to perform in front of others.
“I never feel nervous. I always feel confident when I’m singing,” she says.
Ndalo is equally talented – she has an alto vocal range and sings in the church choir – and the sisters often spend their weekends performing at weddings.
In June, Gugulethu started vocal training lessons with coach Anele Duma, spending three to four hours twice a week honing her talent. It’s going well and she’s learning to master her breathing and pitch, the little girl says.
“I love singing, it boosts my confidence.”
Gugulethu is set to perform at the Kuhle Kwethu Music Festival at the Durban International Convention Centre this weekend where choirs and soloist will show off their talents.
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She’ll also perform at the State of the Nation Address in February before President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his speech.
“This has been an overwhelming experience. We just thank God for the talent and the provision he’s made and we’re behind her,” Bongani says.
Gugulethu is excited about all the wonderful opportunities she’s been given but is also passionate about helping other children.
“It’s always been my dream to save children’s lives. I’d like to continue my education and I’d like to be a paediatrician and to sing.”