Walmer High's Masifunde Youth Choir a finalist in Woolworths/MySchool 2014 Sing and Dance competition

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 17, 2014

A local choir made up of learners from Walmer High School in Port Elizabeth’s Walmer Township, the Masifunde Youth Choir, has been announced as a top five finalist in the 2014 Sing and Dance competition with Woolworths and MySchool and is hoping to walk away with the grand prize of R100 000 cash for their school or R50 000 if they make it in the second or third place.

Masifunde Youth Choir will be representing the Eastern Cape with another school choir from the Riebeek College Girl's High, which is based in Uitenhage, after wowing judges with their talent, innovativeness and beautiful voices. Over 100 other choirs from around South Africa submitted entries in the competition.

Edem Foli, Head of Fundraising and Communications at Masifunde Learner Development, which is behind the choir, said that they were excited about the choir’s achivement.

“We are thrilled and delighted that our learners have been chosen as one of the five finalists, especially considering the fact that the other four schools each have extremely talented Choir groups and we are the only township school, which made it to the top five,” she said. 

“Masifunde Learner Development is continuously looking for innovative ways and means to uplift and empower the learners from Walmer Township through our holistic educational programmes. Reaching the finals of this competition will have a positive impact on their school career and boost their self-esteem and self-confidence.”

Zena Bally, the Masifunde Youth Choir Facilitator, said that their hard work had paid off.

“Excited and proud are understatements! Wow! I'm so excited that we are part of the top five, it just goes to show that hard work does pay off,” said an ecstatic Bally.

She said that winning the competition would no doubt propel their fame as a choir as they “enjoy the art of singing and using our voices to bring joy to others, so with more exposure we would have the privilege to do so.”

“Also, if we win this competition, it would make life a little easier on the financial side (at school- it could help out where it can), as well as teaching us that as a unit that we are a powerful force,” Bally described.

She said their winning entry, which can be viewed on YouTube here, was a creative experiment combining three songs into a unique medley.

“As a choir, we enjoy being creative and what we thought would grab the judges attention is a medley. We joined three songs, ‘Buya’ by Black coffee ft. Toshi; into ‘Say Yes’ by Michelle Williams ft. Beyoncé & Kelly and lastly Pharrell Williams' ‘Happy’. With these songs, we wanted to showcase the talent that is in the choir and how eclectic we can be, we sing anything from Gospel, to pop, and even vocal house,” explained Bally.

She said that the choir is excited going into the finals.

“We're ready for it, we're rehearsing and trying to keep the songs as interesting as possible, especially because we're singing about such a big icon for us, as South Africans, Tat'Nelson Mandela, so we want to do him proud as he watches over us from above.

“We are however, very nervous. Being the only township school chosen as a finalist, is added pressure, as we do not have the resources (e.g. musical instruments) also we now feel we are representatives of all South African township schools,” described Bally.

“The group is so much more enthusiastic and trying new things out which are working quite well, we just need to fine tune it all.”

She believes the choir is talented and we are yet to see greater things out of it.

“I want to see growth in them as individuals, as well as their sound as a group. Our vision is to tour in and around Africa and the rest of the world. We want to make an impact on and in communities through our passion for music; we want our sound to be memorable and be at the level of such choirs as 'Joyous Celebration' and 'Soweto Gospel Choir' (our mentors),” said Bally.

She believes extra curricula activities, like singing and dance, can help communities to address social problems such as crime and drug among the youth.

“It gives our youth something constructive to do with their time, it also develops the talent which is already there. I believe that song and dance is a great platform for youngsters to showcase their talents and give them something to look forward to that could develop them and their country in a positive way,” Bally said.

Foli said that the choir needs assistance to ensure that the learners succeed in the finals and are able to participate in other competitions.

“For Round 2 of the competition, each choir has to record a sing and dance performance music video, which will be reviewed and critiqued by a Judging Panel,” said Foli.  

“We would love financial support and sponsors to help us attend and compete at national choir competitions, which are often held outside of Port Elizabeth.”

The results of the 2014 Sing and Dance competition with Woolworths and My School will be announced on 27 November 2014.

Photo caption: GOLDEN VOICES... The Masifunde Youth Choir, has been announced as a top five finalist in the 2014 Sing and Dance competition with Woolworths and MySchool and is hoping to walk away with the grand prize of R100 000 cash for their school or R50 000 if they make it in the second or third place.