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Choir girl sings her way to the top

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Choir girl sings her way to the top
Leandra Abrahams, 15, a pupil at Zwaanswyk High School, walked away with the top honours at the recent “Thee Unseen Stars” competition after delivering a scintillating performance that had the audience on their feet.

Held at South Peninsula High School on Friday June 21 2013, this was the third season of the competition but it was the first time that Leandra had taken part in it. “I was very surprised when they announced that I had won because the thought of winning had never crossed my mind; I did not enter to win but to have fun and because I just love singing,” Leandra said.

Leandra was up against nine other talented acts, including a “Glee Club” group, that she too was a part of. According to Leandra, she loved being a part of the Zwaanswyk High School Glee Club and was sad that the group had to endure technical problems in their final performance.

“We are extremely proud of Leandra because of the attitude she had throughout the competition, she put her friends and her performance in the Glee Club first,” said Donita Abrahams, Leandra’s mom, “but when she came on and sang her solo song we were blown away.”

Up until a week before the competition, Leandra was going to perform “Hometown” by  Adele but in the end opted to sing “At last” by Beyonce. According to her, the song suits her voice. Having sung it a few times at weddings, she is comfortable singing it too. It was a last minute change that paid dividends, the judges remarking that they loved her song choice, her stage performance and her attire.  

Strangely enough, at her semi-final performance the judges had commented that she had no mic control and that her stage performance was lacking. Leandra went away and worked on those points and came out a winner.

“I can’t believe it, she is only 15 and the control that she has over her voice is incredible,” said Sanet Ziller, the Arts and Culture teacher at Zwaanswyk High School. “What makes it even more amazing is the fact that Leandra has never been for any kind of vocal training,” Ms Ziller, who is an accomplished musician herself, said.

Besides Leandra, Zwaanswyk High School had a strong showing in the competition.  In fact half of the ten final spots were filled by Zwaanswyk High School acts. Soloists Kim Samuels, 13 and Nicole Speek, 14, both delivered good performances as well as the “Glee Club”  and Emile Peterson, 17, brought an energy to the stage with his dance routine. Rudi Ward, an ex-pupil, took third place for his dynamic dance routine.  The second place went to 20 year old Jean Cito, a singer and guitarist.

According to Leandra, she is hoping to further her career as a singer. At her young age she has already written and recorded a song. “I wrote it for my grandpa who passed away two years ago,” Leandra said, explaining that she got her talent from him and that he had always encouraged her to sing in church. 

“I began singing at my church, the Sterkfontein AFM, in the worship band but now I sing solo, Leandra said, adding that she is now looking for a band that she can work with.  “I love working with people, it is so much better than just singing to a backtrack.”

Words and images by Clinton Wittstock
Freelance writer and photographer
Article appeared in the Constantiaberg Bulletin

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