Skip links

Hitting the high notes with SAMRO

Meet the next generation of home-grown musical heroes – twelve unique vocalists the SAMRO Foundation believes have the promise and potential to rise to the top.

Rarely do we see the drive that goes into creating music, the sacrifices artists make for their career, or the countless hours of practice and preparation that musicians go through outside of the public eye. SAMRO, however, understands all the untold tales of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into being a musician. 
     For more than half a century, SAMRO has been offering scholarships through its Overseas Scholarships competitions to enable the country’s gifted young composers, instrumentalists, keyboard players and singers to further develop their skills – either at international institutions of learning or by participating in masterclasses with renowned international teachers or performers.
     Narrowing down the selection to the very best of the best was no easy feat for the adjudication panel when selecting the twelve semi-finalists – six in Jazz and six in Western Art Music – to compete in the live rounds of this year’s SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition for Singers. Two of these exciting newcomers will walk off with R200 000 each to help give wings to their career dreams. This year, the final competition event will be held at the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg on 17 August 2019.

Jazz Semi-Finalists 

Jodi Fredericks SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Jodi Fredericks 
Vibrant vocalist and captivating songwriter, Jodi specialises in jazz performances, with neo-soul closest to her heart. A final year BMus Jazz Studies student, she is majoring in Jazz Vocals at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) South African College of Music. Jodi is well known across the Mother City, having performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival on three occasions. It is no surprise that when Jodi competed in the tenth Grand West Open Mic Jazz Competition in 2018 she was awarded first runner-up. This soulful performer hopes to pursue further studies at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.

Liso Gcwabe SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Liso Gcwabe 
East London-born singer and songwriter Liso had an entire nation captivated when he sang the New Zealand national anthem during a 2016 rugby match between SA and the Kiwis. Currently on tour and delivering a shining performance in the landmark musical The Lion King, Liso graduated with a Diploma in Music Performance (Jazz) at the SA College of Music. He also delivered a powerful performance as Alex in the epic musical Lost In The Stars. In 2015, Liso was chosen to be one of the soloists for the thirteenth Artscape Youth Jazz Festival and led the band Motherland Jazz.

Daniella Hart SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Daniëlla Hart
Daniëlla is a consummate vocalist, composer and music educator who has found her deepest moments of joy through music. The Johannesburg-born artist studied at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and graduated in 2017 with a BTech degree in Jazz and Popular Music. Her recent accomplishments include receiving second place in the Unisa National Voice Competition (Jazz category) in 2017 and also competing in the Unisa International Voice Competition in 2018. Daniëlla has been gigging professionally since 2013 and performed in bands with iconic musicians such as Karendra Devroop, Roland Moses, Peter Sklair and Sydney Mavundla, to name a few. 

Keorapetse Kolwane SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Keorapetse Kolwane
Just knee-high when she fell in love with music, Keorapetse always knew she wanted to one day be a performing artist and is now a skilled songwriter, composer, bandleader and music educator. She completed a Diploma in Jazz at TUT and then completed her fourth year (BTech) at the Jazz and Popular Music Department of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Keorapetse also works as a recording artist, session vocalist, sideman, and lyrical contributor in various ensembles. She has performed at several well-known festivals, including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Redbull Music Festival and Oslo Jazz Festival in Norway. 

Nelisiwe Molaba SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Nelisiwe Molaba 
Affectionately known as Neli, this talented artist showed a gift for the violin at a young age. She studied at TUT and obtained her qualification in Jazz and Popular Music. Among her many achievements, Neli has performed with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and was selected to travel to Cape Town with MIAGI on their first tour. Her captivating playing saw her perform for the first time as a session jazz musician at the grand opening of a governmental auction, and she later received an invitation to perform at the first Unisa festival and under John Davis’ Big Band.

Tshepo Tshabalala SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Tshepo (Zion) Tshabalala 
Pretoria-based jazz, soul, pop and R&B singer Tshepo is currently doing his third year in jazz and popular music at TUT. He started receiving formal training in music at the age of 10 at the Wits Music Education Workshops (MEWS) and completed his secondary school education at the National School of Arts, majoring in Music. Over the years, he has performed in various jazz venues, restaurants and corporate functions across Gauteng. A great improviser, Tshepo won the Unisa National Voice Competition in August 2017 and took second place in the Unisa International Voice Competition in January 2018. 

Western Art Music Semi-Finalists

Goitsemang Lehobye SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Goitsemang Lehobye 
Born in Ga-Rankuwa, Goitsemang was just 3 years old when she started singing. After school, she joined the Black Tie Ensemble Incubator Scheme, where she began learning the tools of the trade in opera singing. She graduated from UCT with a BMus Honours. Productions she has starred in include La Boheme, Don Giovanni and in the joint UCT/Cape Town Opera production of La Traviata. Her accolades also include two world premieres of works by Bongani Ndodana-Breen: An Orchestra Cycle for Soprano and Harmonia Ubuntu – the latter with the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra. Goitsemang is currently studying a Specialist Performance Degree at the University of Michigan. 

Moloko Letsoalo SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Moloko Letsoalo 
Moloko started singing in a school choir in Soshanguve, Pretoria, and was introduced to opera through participation in the SA Schools Choral Eisteddfod. She later went on to study Opera at UCT’s SA College of Music. She has participated in a number of productions, including the role of Servilia in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, Tisbe in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, and the second lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflӧte. Earlier this year, Moloko performed in Basel, Switzerland, as part of Gabrielle Goliath’s Elegy, and sang excerpts of the character Mimi from La Bohème as part of UCT’s Opera Kaleidoscope.

Thembinkosi Magagula SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Thembinkosi Magagula
A MMus student in Applied Vocal Studies, Thembinkosi is currently furthering her skills in the Netherlands under the tutelage of Professor Yvonne Schiffelers. Thembinkosi is known for her powerful portrayals as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Musetta in a production of Puccini’s La Bohème by the Nederlandse Reisopera and the role of Cunégonde in Bernstein’s Candide in the Netherlands and in Portugal. Her many accolades include winning second prize in the 2018 Unisa International Voice Competition and securing a place in the semi-finals in the International Voice Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. She also recently performed with dynamic professional Dutch orchestra Sinfonia Rotterdam.

Palesa Malieloa SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Palesa Malieloa 
Palesa, who hails from Kroonstad, obtained her BA in Music and Society at the North-West University School of Music & Conservatory. She has a number of accolades under her belt, including winning first prize in the ATKV-Muziqanto singing competition in 2016 and the Unisa National Voice Competition in 2017. She was also a finalist in the Opera Crown Tbilisi International Voice Competition. More recently, Palesa competed in the Stanisław Moniuszko and the Mirjam Helin International vocal competitions. Palesa is currently focussing on her Master of Performance studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Tans Köln under Professor Josef Protschka.

Nkululeko Masuku 
Born in Secunda, Nkululeko is a former studio member of the Cape Town Opera. He clearly remembers the day – at age 18 – when he first sang in front of a choir. After the applause, Nkululeko knew that he wanted that feeling for the rest of his life. He made his first appearance on a professional stage in Argentina, amazing audiences with his performance of Crab Man from the sublime production of Porgy and Bess. He also generated rapturous response in Rigoletto as nobleman Matteo Borsa, and starred as young prince Tamino in Die Zauberflӧte

Makudupanyane Senaoana SAMRO Foundation music voice singing South African competition

Makudupanyane Senaoana
A graduate of UCT’s SA College of Music, Makudupanyane is currently based in Germany as a freelance opera artist and voice student of Professor Josef Protschka. He has graced several prestigious performing arts venues, including the Aalto-Musiktheater Essen, Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern and Theater Aachen. He has won the annual Johannesburg International Mozart Festival’s International Study Award and was also the first prize holder of the SA voice competition Amazwi Omzansi. He is a past graduate of Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artists’ Vocal Academy and a fellow of The Steans Music Institute at the outdoor Ravinia Festival. 

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.