Four of South Africa’s foremost multiple SAMA award-winning singing sensations will assist coaches Karen Zoid, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Lira and Kahn Morbee in developing and prepping the talent for the fierce upcoming Battle Rounds in M-Net’s new feel-good vocal contest The Voice SA.
Karen has chosen her long-time friend Zolani Mahola from Freshlyground to help her take the fourteen incredible contenders in her team to the next level. Toya Delazy will be on Bobby’s side, Lira opted for fellow songstress Nianell and Kahn will be tapping into the vast musical experience of Vicky Sampson.
During The Voice SA’s Battle Rounds, which will commence this week Sunday, 20 March in the show’s new earlier, two-hour timeslot starting at 17:00, the four coaches will pair off the members of their respective teams to take each other on in a vocal clash of note, in which they sing the same song. The coach will then be able to save only one of the two contestants to go through to the live rounds. This means the coaches will be cutting their teams in half during the upcoming four episodes featuring the Battles. Luckily, each coach also has one “Steal” with which they can nab a singer from another coach who has not been picked for the live shows. That will leave each coach with eight talents when the live shows commence.
“In The Voice SA, the focus truly is on nurturing, honing and amplifying incredible singing talent,” says M-Net’s Head of Publicity, Lani Lombard. “After the battle rounds every singer, whether they’ve made it or not, will have acquired a new set of skills to use in their careers going forward. The coaches have all carefully selected their co-coaches themselves to ensure that they bring out the best in every singer and we are honoured that these esteemed performers have agreed to become part of the process.”
At the time of The Voice SA’s Battle Round recordings, a then heavily pregnant Zolani Mahola, the charismatic front lady of Freshlyground, assisted Karen as her final giving-back musical endeavour before welcoming her baby boy into the world at the end of February this year.
“I think she chose amazing people for Team Karen,” Zolani says. “And such a diverse group of people as well – a wide range of different musical styles and just a wide range of different South Africans. But that’s Karen,” she notes, “she is an eclectic kind of person, with a wide musical taste and range, and that reflects in her choices.”
As co-coach for Team Karen, Zolani says she focused mostly on stagecraft. “Karen chooses all the music and does the pairing,” she explained behind the scenes before the first Battle. “I am focusing more on the performance side of things, like stage presence, mic technique, breathing technique ... that sort of thing. I help the contestants to find themselves on stage,” she says.
Bobby’s co-coach, international sensation Toya Delazy says she still remembers all too well what it feels like to go from being a pub artist on a small scale to suddenly having to perform in front of thousands of screaming fans.
That is why she also sees her role in Team Bobby as helping the contestants with staging. “I taught them things like being in the space on stage, understanding the song and interpreting it, dealing with stage fright and how to centre themselves before the performance,” she says. “Because I also used to suffer terribly from stage fright.” Toya flew back from working in London especially to help Team Bobby on The Voice SA.
Multitalented singer, pianist, guitarist, and composer Nianell boasts an impressive four-octave range, and studied music at Trinity College in London, which makes her another ideal co-coach.
“I love this process! I think I’m just a natural teacher,” Nianell enthused behind the scenes of the first Battle of The Voice SA. “The only downside is that you get so fond of all the contestants so quickly, and then you’re so sad when you have to bid some of them goodbye,” she admits. “But I welcome any chance I can get to share what I’ve learned in this business. I’m so grateful to be a part of this. You know, the older you get the more grateful you get,” she points out, “and the less it is about what you can get in life, and more about what you can give. I wish I had this kind of knowledge available to me when I was their age.”
Kahn Morbee’s co-coach for Team Kahn on The Voice SA is the venerable singer Vicky Sampson, probably most famous for the stirring South African anthem My African Dream, which inspired a nation and a continent when she sang it at the opening and closing ceremonies of the African Cup of Nations in 1996.
Vicky says the level of talent in The Voice SA makes her very excited for the future of South African music. “I’ve seen tremendous growth and confidence building in Kahn’s contestants in this short time that I’ve worked with them,” she says. “There’s some stunning talent in this show … and Kahn chose some really interesting music for them, and put together some interesting pairings for the Battles. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that!” she laughs.
The co-coaches are also there to advise their coaches when they are faced with a difficult decision after a Battle of whom to save and whom to let go. “When Kahn consults with me during a Battle I tend to look at the holistic picture – I look at everything from their vocal ability, the person’s character, their spirit ... who are you when you’re not on stage,” Vicky explains. “But it is still The Voice, so of course it’s mostly about the vocal ability on the night.”
Now the big question is: Who will the coaches pair off for the first Battles this week? Be sure you’re tuned in at 17:00 for some dramatic, tearful and exhilarating moments.
For more information about the Battles and how the competition works, go to mnet.tv/thevoice.
Download The Voice SA app on Android or iOS to play real-time games and stay up to speed with the latest news about the show.
The Voice South Africa is produced for M-Net by AMPN and is sponsored by Dialdirect.