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Idols SA Top 16.

Mzansi finally knows the Top 16 singers who will battle it out for your votes.

It was not an easy journey whittling down the numbers to a mere 16 from nearly 80 Golden Ticket holders who descended on to the Wild Coast Sun in Port Edward, KwaZulu-Natal. It was a trying week of mixed emotions – from agonising over song choice and choosing complementary singing partners, to practising at all hours of the day and night, receiving professional advice from voice coaches, and finally standing in front of the judges on stage in the full glare of television lights.

“They don’t call Theatre Week the toughest week on Idols for nothing,” was judge Gareth Cliff’s sentiments, echoed by the contestants.

The gruelling week started off with a session with Golden Ticket winners “reminding” judges Gareth, Unathi Msengana, Somizi Mhlongo and Randall Abrahams why they were chosen in the first place. It was after a full day of just the contestant, their voice and a microphone that they were first trimmed down. Those left standing were divided into 18 groups of three, to work together and deliver a stellar performance. It was tough.

See some of contestants who couldn't stand the heat:

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Working with voice coaches and each other, some contestant gave their all on the stage while others either faded, froze or committed the cardinal Idols SA sin – forgetting the lyrics. 37 eventually made it to the solo round, getting a chance to perform individually for the judges in the battle to make the Top 16.

The public was afforded a chance to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience by becoming a member of the live audience. Wild Coast Sun’s theatre was full to capacity with friends, family, fans and Idols SA hopefuls. They cheered and clapped for the contestants, giving most of them the confidence boost they so desperately needed in this vocal duel of their lives.

The local song choices impressed judge Somizi, with contestants proving that magic lives in Mzansi with hits such as Back to the Beach, Imali, Nomvula and others being performed. “This makes me happy and proud because it shows that radio stations are finally giving local talent the recognition they deserve,” said Somizi.

The live recording was a rousing success that saw judges deliberate all night long to finally make the tough decision of who would get to be in the Top 16 – and ultimately be crowned the Idols SA season 12 winner!

Idols SA season 12 live shows will now broadcast Sundays at 17:00 on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161.

For more Idols SA action, visit our website: www.idolssa.tv or be part of the conversation via the following social media platforms:

Facebook: Idols South Africa (www.facebook.com/IdolsSA

Twitter: @IdolsSA #IdolsSA

Instagram: @IdolsSA

WeChat ID: IdolsSA

Meet the Top 16

Nontobeko “Luke” Ntombela (27) hails from Escort in KwaZulu-Natal and lives with her pastor and his family. She is a waitress at Primi Piatti and regardless of whether she wins or not, she hopes a producer will spot her talent and be able to help her become a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

See Luke kick things off with his flawless rendition of Zahara's Mali:

Tebogo Louw (24) is from Stellenbosch and lives with his mother and sister. He is a full time musician and hopes that he will land a recording deal from his experience on Idols.

Watch Tebogo's explosive third go around:

Simphiwe Shobede (28) from Mtubatuba in KwaZulu- Natal lives on his own and is a full time musician, actor and presenter.  He will continue with his entertainment industry career regardless of the outcome of his Idols journey.

Lucia finally connects with Zonk's Reach It in the video below:

Sgherdeed Ross (28) has miraculously been able to fit in her passion for music in her schedule. And now that the Reiger Park, Boksburg, singer has made it on Idols, she plans to make the most of that. “Whether or not I get far in the competition, I will pursue my music career because of the platform created for me”.

Keegan Martin (23) from Gauteng left his job as a senior consultant at an insurance company to give Idols a try, and look where he is now. He lives with his parents and younger sister and plans to be involved in charity work while pursuing his music career.

Siyakhanya Tshayela (23) is the first of four siblings. This full time musician from Vosloorus in the East Rand hopes to open a musical organisation for upcoming musicians where she can give vocal lessons, and do the same for her church and former music school.

Watch Siyakhanya stun all with her fiesty take on Beyoncé's Irreplaceable:

Lucia Jakeni (26), is currently unemployed and plans to go back to school after Idols to study music and social services. Born in Everton North, Vereeniging, she lives with her dad, younger brother and two sons.

Amanda Kunene (22) from Durban North she lives with her mother, twin sister and younger sister. She is currently studying towards an Honours Degree in Music at the University of KwaZulu- Natal. She hopes Idols will help her land a recording deal and be more involved in the entertainment industry.

Sanele Simphiwe Mkhize (21) is from Ntumaza in KwaZulu-Natal and is studying Ecological Tourism at Durban University of Technology. He lives with his mother, cousins and aunts. This year, he has taken some time out of his studies to pursue his passion in music and compete in Idols. If he doesn’t reach the final, he plans on going back to school and studying Law and eventually start his own business.

The bubbly Valentine Mathe (20) hails from Mamelodi, outside Pretoria, and lives with her mother and older brother. She is a full time musician who wants to study Journalism at a college after Idols.

Student teacher Nomalungelo Noxolo Khumalo may love children, but music is in her blood. The 22 year-old from Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, lives with her parents and younger brother and hopes to land a recording deal. Meanwhile, she looks forward to completing her Bachelor of Education at Unisa.

Nosihe Zama Zulu (28) quit her data capturing job to pursue music. Now studying music at the University of Durban at the Howard Campus, she lives alone in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, and hopes Idols SA will catapult her future music career. “I plan to continue making and writing music and eventually release an album - and just be amazing”, she says.

Thamsanqa Vuyo Thabile Mathonisi (20) the spur of the moment decision to enter Idols SA turned out to be one of the best decisions Thamsanqa has made yet. Even after the second year Music and Drama student at University of KwaZulu Natal forgot his original audition song, he still managed to bag three yeses and sang another.

Lusanda Beja (25) comes from a home full of women. He lives in Gugulethu, Cape Town, with his mother, grandmother, aunt and two sisters. He has just completed his National Diploma in Marketing Management at MSC Business College. After Idols, Lusanda would like to pursue music full time. “I would like to host more music seminars, more gospel events and go into the business aspect of music because of the opportunity that Idols has presented to me”. 

Bevin Samuels (19) is from the friendly city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The youngest of all the contestant, he has taken a gap year to pursue his music career. He is also the baby of his family and lives with his parents and two older brothers and a sister. “I plan to be a full time musician and with the platform that Idols has given me, I will hopefully be able to take it far and get my name out there”.

Tersius “Terra” Kocks (28) hails from Eden Park, Alberton in Gauteng and is a part-time singer and songwriter. He lives with his older sister, aunt and her two sons. He hopes that Idols will give his career a boost so that he can become a major player in the music industry.  He is currently a singer at Katzy’s Grillhouse in Rosebank, Johannesburg.