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The Ndlovu Youth Choir Just Scored a Deal with Simon Cowell

The America's Got Talent judge and his company have offered to sign the talented choir.

Two weeks ago, South Africans were rooting for the Ndlovu Youth Choir to win America's Got Talent (AGT) and the coveted million dollar prize as well as a chance to be a headline act in Las Vegas. While the group lost to the crowd favorite, Kodi Lee, they received an incredibly warm welcome when they returned to South Africa and were even gifted R1 million (USD 66 000) by Thandi Moraka, the member of the executive council (MEC) for Limpopo's Department of Arts and Culture. Yesterday, in an interview with Radio 702, choir director Ralf Schmitt revealed that AGT judge Simon Cowell and his company had offered to officially sign the Ndlovu Youth Choir.


There's a reason why contestants on AGT and it's British spin-off want to impress Cowell. Not only is he usually the toughest judge on the panel but he's also been instrumental in promoting the music careers of artists such as Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis as well as groups including Westlife, Little Mix, Il Divo and Fifth Harmony. Most recently, the insanely talented South African choir is now on his list of stardom.

Speaking about the deal, Schmitt said that, "We are very excited that Simon Cowell and his company have exercised their option to sign the choir and together with Sony Music in South Africa are working on exciting projects." He added that, "It is a wonderful compliment to these young people because he wouldn't do that if he didn't think there is a future for them and the work they have done."

While the details of the deal itself have not been made clear as yet, we're certain that the future of the Ndlovu Youth Choir is bright.

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Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

The Ndlovu Youth Choir Wins the Hollywood Music in Media Award

South Africa's favorite choir continues on its winning streak.

The Ndlovu Youth Choir continues to fly the South African flag high. Recently, the choir was awarded the Hollywood Music in Media Award in the category of "Best Independent Music Video" alongside Grammy award-winning South African flautist, Wouter Kellerman, for their Zulu rendition of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You".

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News Brief

Watch Ami Faku and Sun-El Musician’s Music Video for ‘Into Ingawe’

Ami Faku and Sun-El Musician share the visuals for their hit single 'Into Ingawe.'

Rising South African singer Ami Faku collaborated with the house music producer Sun-El Musician for "Into Ingawe" which was released in June. The song became an instant hit on radio and the internet.

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'54 Silhouettes' at the British Council of Nigeria's Lagos Theatre Festival. Photo: Drive Adebayo.

'54 Silhouettes' Is the One-Man Play Exploring What Happens When Other People Tell Our Stories

The play is the first from Nigeria to show at the international United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC.

Playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director Africa Ukoh's award-winning play 54 Silhouettes has made its way to New York City as part of the United Solo Festival, the annual international festival, highlighting solo theatre performances through a "variety of one-person shows."

The one-man play stars the award-winning Nigerian actor Charles Etubiebi as a struggling actor who thinks he's landed his big break when he gets a major role in an upcoming blockbuster, he becomes conflicted, however, when he learns the film is yet another stereotypical "war in Africa" production—the type of film he vowed to never do. "Caught between career ambitions and ideals of his African identity, he must decide whether to do the film or ditch it," reads an official description of the show.

"The play explores African representation in global media and asks questions about creative responsibility, with tensions of cross cultural relations at the center of it all," Ukoh tells OkayAfrica. "It explores the inherent complexities in culturally unique stories being told by people of different cultures and how this intersects with power dynamics, commerce, and artistic ideals."

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Interview
Sarz. Photo: Manny Jefferson. Courtesy of the artist.

Interview: Sarz Has Powered a Generation of Nigerian Music—and He Isn't Stopping Anytime Soon

We talk to the star producer about his role in the rising global popularity of Nigerian music, spanning his production on massive singles from the likes of Wizkid, Skepta, Drake and more.

"I think more than the music, the narrative is more important these days," says Sarz as he sits at the offices of his press agency. "So one great song with an amazing narrative can get you farther than five great songs sometimes."

When Sarz talks about music, his eyes light up. They dart with excitement as he runs through topics like sounds, production, trends, and innovation. These are all words that represent his life's work of impactful music production, which has powered a generation of music in Nigeria, and is currently playing a role in its international future. Sitting at the offices, decked in a white t-shirt, red trousers and Nike kicks, he makes a point that he rarely grants interviews. And when he does, it's in spaces like this, in rooms and studios where his business is conducted, and his work is birthed and refined for public impact.

Born Osabuohien Osaretin, the 30-year-old music producer discovered sounds by accident when his ears would automatically pick apart music and focus on the beat. Interestingly, he discovered that he could remember every beat in detail. It was the entry point to a career that took off in 2010 when he scored his first hit on Jahbless' "Joor Oh" remix—during the formative stages of the current Nigerian pop success—and has provided sounds that have shaped the culture and given it its biggest moments.

With afrobeats' global ambitions taking off, Sarz's production is playing crucial roles in celebrated cross-cultural projects. He's helmed Drake's "One Dance," unlocked the chemistry between Wizkid and Skepta on "Energy (Stay Far Away)," and added composition on Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift album.

"I'm inspired by the thoughts of how far I can take music. Just thinking about where this music can take me to," Sarz says, taking swigs from a water bottle. The producer has also worked with the biggest stars in afrobeats, and a look through his catalogue has hits every year since 2007.

He talks passionately about his work, the source of inspiration, where good music originates from, and how he identifies where to direct his energies. He runs an academy that has been a vehicle for delivering new producers to the culture. Sarz converses with range, a brimming energy, and a humility that is tied to purpose and achievements. He never shies away from topics that examine his revered place in this ecosystem, admitting without bragging that he is no one's mate. Even his 2019 SINYM EP is affirmation that "Sarz Is Not Your Mate." He has seen a lot and has a lot to say.

Sarz. Photo: Manny Jefferson. Courtesy of the artist.

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