The Voice South Africa returned to our screens for a third season on Sunday night with an exciting new look, a new host in the vivacious Anele Mdoda, and three new coaches: Afrikaans rock rebel Francois van Coke, singer-songwriter Riana Nel – who steps up from being a co-coach in previous seasons – and the “swagalicious” chart-topper Riky Rick, joining The Queen, Afro-pop sensation LIRA, who has been with the show since the beginning.
The emotional first episode of The Voice SA Season 3 kicked off with the Blind Audition phase of the competition, in which the four coaches sit with their backs to the stage to listen to the quality of the voices. If they like what they hear, they push the buzzer to turn their red chair around. When only one chair turns, the coach secures the talent on stage for his or her team. When more than one chair turns, the coaches have to pitch their credentials to the Talent to lure them onto their team!
When the end credits rolled at the end of tonight’s episode, coach LIRA secured Ross Charles and Petro De Villiers for her team; Riana gained Lelo Ramasimong and Greunen Parker on hers; Riky Rick nabbed Joel Zuma and Keanu Harker and Francois van Coke hooked Sade Ross. This leaves coach LIRA, Riana and Riky Rick with 10 spots open on their teams, while Francois has 11.
The honour of launching the third season of The Voice South Africa went to Ross Charles, a 26-year-old musician and sound engineer from Durban, who opened up on camera about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, and how The Beatles saved him. Ably supported by the incredible The Voice SA live band, Ross opened the show with the spine-chilling opening wail of that powerful old Sam Cooke classic, “A Change is Gonna Come”, and within the first four bars of the song Francois van Coke hit his Big Red Button and turned his chair around. Moved by the power of that timeless ballad, LIRA, Riky Rick, and Riana also hit their buttons in quick succession, and then the fight was on! Riana told Ross that he could be a “one in a million”, but Francois van Coke was ready to fight her – physically – to get Ross on his team! “I’m a singer and a collaborator,” Francois told Ross, “and I’d really like to work with you.” But LIRA told Ross she had goosebumps the second he started that song. “You need to come to Team LIRA,” she said, and Ross agreed, allowing #TeamLIRA to draw first blood in the 2019 competition.
39-year-old actor and singer Joel Zuma from Pietermaritzburg is the son of a Bishop, who honed his singing talent in church. He freely admitted that he had his sights set on working with Miss LIRA, and fortunately for Joel both she and Riky Rick turned their chairs for his soulful rendition of that old Otis Redding standard, “Try A Little Tenderness”. But in a surprise twist, Joel then chose to throw his fate in with #TeamRiky. “I want somebody that wants to make me better, take me to another level,” he explained backstage.
Next up to compete for a place in The Voice South Africa Season 3 was 23-year-old content developer Philip Hanly from Johannesburg. After two classic Soul numbers, Philip tore the stage up with his energetic pop performance of Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance”, but despite a rapturous response from the studio audience, not one coach turned for him. “I thought the pitching was a bit off,” LIRA noted regretfully.
But LIRA did turn for the 36-year-old construction worker from Cape Town, Petro de Villiers, performing Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” as an impassioned rock ballad. “I couldn’t let you go home, you need to be on this show,” LIRA said.
22-year-old session guitarist Keanu Harker from Balhar in the Cape brought some Funk to the #TheVoiceSA stage with Bruno Mars’s “Treasure” and earned a turn from Riky Rick, followed closely by Francois van Coke. Francois insisted on hearing Keanu’s guitar skills, which were equally impressive, “and you’ve got the dance moves, too!” Riky laughed. The two coaches pitched hard to get Keanu on their team, and in the end Keanu threw his fate in with Riky Rick.
25-year-old Phatiswa Magangane, a teacher and part-time singer from Springs, is the daughter of a choir conductor who earned her Bachelor of Music in Jazz. She gave her very best with the Beyoncé hit “Naughty Boy”, but sadly it wasn’t enough to earn her one chair-turn from the coaches.
Sade Ross (29), who works as a singing waitress in Cape Town, spoke courageously about her struggles with anxiety and depression, and then became the first member of #TeamFrancois with her delivery of Sia’s “Chandelier”.
22-year-old Greunen Parker from Pretoria loves to perform for the elderly, he says, because “people tend to forget about them”. With his passionate performance of the 1986 John Farnham hit “You’re The Voice”, Greunen inspired Riky Rick, Riana Nel, and LIRA to turn their chairs for him, and he chose to become the first member of #TeamRiana.
Seconds into her performance of Shawn Mendes’s “Mercy”, all four coaches turned their chairs for the 32-year-old musical theater actress Lelo Ramasimong. “I turned first, I want you the most,” Riana pitched, and it worked!
But the four coaches’ teams are not nearly filled up yet, so don’t miss next week’s episode of The Voice South Africa, when the Blind Auditions battle intensifies!
The Voice South Africa premieres on M-Net 101 every Sunday at 17:30 and is repeated on VUZU, Channel 116, on Mondays at 20:00. It also be available on DStv CatchUp.