Thapelo was among the older individuals in this year’s batch of aspiring contestants. At 29, the trauma counsellor who works with the SAPS has something of a unique life experience, but he had spent years honing his craft as a singer, having counted himself as a backing vocalist with a gospel group. Right at the beginning, he made it clear that his genre of choice was soul, and he certainly put that love on full display through the competition, and it started with his audition:
Thembi may have been “surprised” by his performance, but he quickly came to be among those contestants from who people expected excellence. It wasn’t an easy run, though. During Theatre Week, Thapelo was paired with Zee to deliver a duet, and, during rehearsals, it became clear that the latter was struggling to hit some of the high notes – usually the preserve of the female partner in a duet. Nevertheless, they adapted, and both managed to secure themselves a position in the Top 10.
With the preliminary stages out of the way – and with Thapelo earning himself a spot among the finalists – it was time for the Mzansi massive to get to know him properly.
Then it came time for the most exciting section of the Idols SA season – the live shows. For audiences, this in when things ramp up: the excitement, the stakes, and the contestants’ ambition. Make no mistake, pumping out new performances every week, canvassing for votes, impressing the judges – it’s hard. It’s a challenge. And Thapelo rose to that challenge like a champion. Here are some highlights.
Possibly his biggest performance of the season:
His Showstopper performance:
Tackling gospel, his natural element.
Then his shot at performing an iconic hit from one of his musical inspirations, Michael Bolton:
Week after week, Thapelo impressed South African audiences with his enthusiasm and raw talent. His positivity and hard work led him to reach the final with somebody that pretty much everybody knew would make it there – Nozi.
Thankfully, they liked each other, which has been a hallmark of the Idols SA competition for years. Camaraderie has always been a feature of the show, and this year’s finalists weren’t about to buck the trend:
What happened during the final is well-documented: Thapelo won. It’s not like we’re delivering any spoilers, here. What was notable about his final performance was – basically – his inability to get through it. Not because he cracked under the enormity of the moment, mind you, but because he was positively mobbed by other members of the Top 10 and the judges:
What now? Well, that remains to be seen. Thapelo is now signed to Kalawa Jazmee Records, but he intends on remaining a trauma counsellor with the SAPS, since his passion for the job remains undiminished. And that, perhaps, is the defining feature of the 2022 South African Idol: unbridled passion.