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SA Choir opens about up about their 'America's Got Talent' journey: 'It's about representing the country'

2019-07-21 07:00
Ndlovu Youth Choir
Ndlovu Youth Choir (Photo: Instagram/Ndlovu Youth Choir)

Johannesburg – The Ndlovu Youth Choir first caught the attention of South Africans when they delivered a stellar performance on reality competition America's Got Talent (AGT), getting a standing ovation from the audience. 

The group, who originate from Limpopo, have now made it through to the live rounds of the show, and they couldn't be happier. 

Now back on South African soil for a short while, Channel24 caught up with the members of the choir at an intimate breakfast in Sandton on Wednesday. 

"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, tells us as we sit down for a quick chat. 

The video of the Ndlovu Youth Choir's AGT audition has gained over 5 million views on YouTube – something Ralf did not see coming. 

"We thought there would be a few people from around the world that will see it, and maybe a few of our friends and one or two people in South Africa would be interested, but we never envisioned the overwhelming, incredible support that we received." 

Right now, the choir has got their sights firmly set on the nerve-wracking live rounds. According to Ralf, preparations for their next performance have been "hectic", with rehearsals taking place every single day. 

And while they may be a little anxious, the choir members seem to agree that there's one thing that's more important to them than winning. 

"For us, truly it's about representing the country and letting people know what we do. If we could just spread joy, and a message of hope, and be the voice for the young people who do not believe that they can make it, then that's enough for us," singer Thulisile says.

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Sandile, who has been with the choir since its inception in 2009, agrees entirely. He adds: "As long as our voices get heard and the world knows about us." 

The Ndlovu Youth Choir was formed under the Ndlovu Care Group, an NGO founded by medical doctor Hugo Tempelman. He explains how the choir came to be, saying that it started as a "healing programme" for children who were victims of circumstance. 

"We thought, 'what can we do as an NGO to provide support for these children?'. The support we give is in a series of programmes, from toddlers to adults, whereby we especially focus on how we can support children. 

"The choir started in 2009. It was started as a healing programme, and we wanted to take it further and see if we could make it a job creation programme, and here we are today on an international stage. And they have exceeded all of our expectations. It's only the start."   

To the young South Africans who look up to the group, choir member Thabo shares a special message: "To the youth, if you want something, then just focus on that. Never mind what people say about your dream because people will discourage you. Just focus and fight for what you want."


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