Boasting the biggest audition turn-out of the season, thousands of wannabe stars rocked up at Carnival City to for the last chance to impress Idols SA judges Randall Abrahams, Unathi Msengana, Gareth Cliff and Somizi Mhlongo. So far in Idols SA Season 11 a total of 53 hopeful singers secured a coveted Golden Ticket and eventually, after sifting through heaps of varied talent, the judges unearthed 25 more Golden Ticket winners – the highest number for an audition venue this year.
How the events played out at the Carnival City auditions:
It all started with a conspicuous note from Randall; “You wanna know if you can sing – we’ll give you a straight answer.” For 26-year-old Chrystal Worship from Cape Town, who has been performing professionally for the past four years, the answer meant a Golden Ticket to Sun City. “Chrystal is an appropriate name, because it is a clear voice,” said an impressed Gareth.
Unfortunately, Chrystal's good fortune was not the start of a Golden Ticket rush for Jozi, and pretty soon the judges grew more and more impatient. Even gentle Somizi told one unfortunate contestant, “don’t ever sing again”.
Some more valuable lessons learned from a few of this year’s Jozi contestants:
1. A backing track is not an “instrument”.
2. If you do have an instrument, make sure you can play it.
3. And if you do bring a backtrack, it works better when the judges can hear the music too, as one contestant proved when she opted to listen to her backtrack on a set of earphones.
But none of that hampered Busisiwe Mthembu (23) from Springs. Busi calls herself an “eliminator” but not in reference to her singing prowess – it’s a process that she performs at her day job, in a factory that makes moulds for car and bus parts.
“My life is a difficult one since I’m a single mom,” Busi admitted before her audition. “A Golden Ticket represents that my life is about to begin.” And so it did, with four yes votes sending her straight on to the next phase of the competition at Sun City. “She’s got that street charm,” Randall said.
Another contestant with an interesting day job was 21-year-old Keith Basel from Glenvista, who works in the family business as a horseracing oddsmaker and commentator. “Dad is a legend in the game,” he said. “So I have to make my legacy in another field.” With Idols SA host ProVerb outside the audition room taking bets on his chances to win a Golden Ticket, Keith sang his way to three yeses. “The house always wins!” Pro laughed as he counted his winnings.
In past seasons of Idols SA it has been slightly older, more established singers that have won the title, but in Season 11 the youngsters were out to buck that trend. But of course that is easier said than done. Randall told one 16-year-old he would only be ready in about four years time, and Gareth told another she needed some time to “find herself”. But in the end Karabo Mashele from Bedfordview, Jamie Smith from Linksfield, James Janse van Rensburg from Carltonville, Nina Terblanche from Nelspruit, and a talented choirboy from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, Loyiso Gijana, were five 16-year-olds who did make the cut.
Dineo Moseki from Vryburg, “the capital of the Middle of Nowhere”, as she put it, has been trying to build a musical career ever since failing to reach the Top 10 last year. “It’s like I’m trapped in a tank and the only way out is go to Johannesburg, go to audition, and get that Golden Ticket,” she confessed. “That will be the happiest day of my life.”
Dineo defied conventional Idols SA wisdom and performed her own composition, called “Under The Maroela Tree”, despite how much she knows Randall hates that. “I luuh you!” Somizi told her. “I’m so happy you came back,” Unathi agreed. In the end Dineo’s fate came down to Gareth, who took a chance and allowed her to try her luck again at Sun City.
In total 78 contestants are now heading to Sun City for the next phase of the competition, known as “Hell Week”. The few who triumph there will make the Top 16, and get the opportunity to perform for viewers’ votes at the State Theatre in Pretoria.
Idols SA Season 11 is screened in HD on M-Net, channel 101, and Mzansi Magic, channel 161, on DStv. And as always all the auditions will once again be played on the Idols SA Extra channel, channel 199 on DStv, from the time the show's end credits roll.
You can follow all the Idols SA conversations on the official Idols SA Facebook page, on Twitter by following @IdolsSA, or on Instagram by following @IdolsSA. You can also find us on WeChat on the ID “idolssa”, where you can test your knowledge by using the keyword “Quiz”.