Voices of South Africa Trust
Inspiring the next generation of Opera stars out of Africa
Discovering, Developing & Inspiring Outstanding Talent
Voices of South Africa Trust discovers outstanding young performing artists and helps them in their development during the early stages of their journeys. We do this through our existing workshops, masterclasses and the national singing competition run yearly to encourage:
Education & Training
Mentoring & Support
Skills Development & Information Exchange
Profiling & Database
Connecting the young artists with the business of the performing arts
Awards through the competition designed to help with specific projects of the young artists
How do we work?
Each year we identify a small group of young people through a vigorous audition process. We are looking for talent but also, and most importantly, passion and the drive and hunger for an opportunity to learn.
Our singers come from all walks of life; some have had some training and some not at all. What speaks for them is their natural talent and how much they want to get somewhere in life. Auditions are announced via press, social media and word of mouth.
Young singers interested in being part of the workshops apply through our website, by sending us an email or by contacting a member of our team. Auditions are held in various centres across the country. Singers are heard in their hundreds before a small number is selected for the intensive workshops and singing competition. Our current base is the Durban Music School in KwaZulu-Natal. Selected singers get full support from us in terms of travel, accommodation, transport within the host city, food and training. The course does not cost the young artists anything. Almost all of the singers are unemployed.
During a period of two weeks, the young singers are given an opportunity to take part in an intensive programme covering a wide range of topics including singing, stage craft, languages, insights into the business of music and it's complexities, how they to go about securing employment, advice on contracts and dealing with tax and visas. They are spoken to about opportunities that exist within and outside of South Africa for further education or possible employment for those who are in advanced stages of their journey.
The young singers are coached on ways in which they can take advantage of opportunities that exist. Some work is also done in educating the young people on how to create work for themselves so that they are able make a living whatever their current situation is.
Why is this work important?
The Voices of South Africa Trust has been running 10 years. Initially as an informal project and, since 2013, as a registered non-profit organisation.
Voices of South Africa or, as is widely known in Zulu, Amazwi Omzansi Africa, was started by the international South African opera singer Njabulo Madlala. Madlala himself was born and raised in a township North of Durban, South Africa. Raised in a single parent household and economically disadvantaged, he grew up surrounded by poverty, crime, and a lack of opportunity. In 2002 Njabulo had a lucky break when he won a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
While studying and working in Europe, Njabulo had always wanted to give back to his community at home by creating a project that would encourage the mentoring and development of young people talented in music but stuck in difficult and dangerous environments.
This was also fueled by the upsurge in talent in the townships of South Africa, particularly in classical music and opera. Having had the opportunity to meet and work with people at the top of their careers, Madlala saw an opportunity to create a platform for learning and sharing through inviting colleagues, teachers and mentors encountered overseas who were willing to travel to Africa to help. This has enabled established artists to come and share their experience and expertise with young people who most desperately needed it within a structured programme where all artists are supported.
The trust creates a connecting ground and an avenue for the learning and sharing of information, development and uplifting of young people. Through this process of mentoring and guidance, a smaller number of singers are then chosen and connected with educational institutions working with the Trust so they may be able to study further. They are also encouraged to create similar projects when they finish and to help others within their communities.