This season, the first six duels in The Voice SA’s brutal Battle Rounds put coaches Bobby van Jaarsveld, Kahn Morbee, Lira and Karen Zoid under immense stress. All the singing acts who were paired off by their coaches to take each other on in the show’s brand new boxing ring-styled stage illustrated why The Voice SA has become known as the singing contest that showcases the best unsigned vocal talent in the country. After each Battle, the coach in question agonised over which singer to choose for the next phase of the competition, hoping that one of their fellow coaches would exercise one of their two opportunities to “Steal” the talent who didn’t get the nod.
In a first for The Voice South Africa, coach Kahn Morbee surprised with a pre-emptive Steal. Even before Lira had to pick between the powerful voices of Kempton Park beauty therapist Jacqueline Tolken, 31, and the feisty, pint-sixed Al Peterson, 28, from Cape Town, Kahn announced that he would take either of them, no matter which contender Lira chose. Kahn was particularly impressed with the way that they transported the audience to a bygone era with their performance of the ColdPlay hit Speed of Sound. In the end Lira opted for Jacqueline, who interestingly felt she had less of a grip on the song while they were rehearsing with Lira and #TeamLira’s co-coach, the phenomenal vocalist and song writer Riana Nel. So, from now onwards, Al will compete in #TeamKahn.
When Karen Zoid was in a similar predicament when powerhouse singers Armand Joubert, 21, from eMalahleni and Samantha Leonard, 24, from Kimberly set the stage alight with The Darkness’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love, coach Bobby van Jaarsveld came to the rescue. As both Armand and Samantha displayed what Karen called “an insane vocal range”, she wanted to test their entertainment value. Initially, Samantha lacked some confidence when co-coach Emo Adams joined Karen to prepare them for their Battle, but a pep talk did the trick. Samantha’s boosted confidence coupled with Armand’s natural ability made for one of the most epic Battles of the night. “That was war! It was absolutely incredible, like something out of a movie… POWER!” Lira exclaimed. None of the coaches could give Karen advice on what to do, but due to the immense progress that she demonstrated, Karen chose Samantha as her winner, much to Samantha’s utter shock. Luckily, Bobby felt that a talent like Armand’s couldn’t leave the show and opted to steal him for his team.
The other incredible singers who survived this week’s Battles are chemical engineer Marco Basson, 23, honours graduate Zee Gqamana, 23, from Grahamstown, stylish Lindo Sithole, 22, from Pietermaritzburg and Tender Mavundla, 35, from Port Shepstone.
This is how their Battles played out:
• When Bobby teamed up Marco Basson, 23, with Anchen Groenewald, 19, from Rustenburg, co-coach Jimmy Nevis gushed: “There’s something so special about these two. Marco’s this geeky, cool guy who has so much swag when he sings, and Anchen is just so fierce!” Going into the Battle, Bobby noted that the song was “begging for attitude” and that’s exactly what both Anchen and Marco brought to the stage. Karen and Lira complimented both performers on doing such an impressive job with such a difficult song, and commended Marco on hitting incredibly high notes with his falsetto, while Kahn committed to saying that he wanted to see more of Anchen in the competition going forward. The final decision lay with Bobby, however, and he chose to keep Marco.
• Both Zee Gqamana, 23, from Grahamstown and experienced vocal coach from Cape Town, Monique Hellenberg, 33, received their only coach turn in the Blind Auditions from Kahn, as he clearly felt that they each had something unique to bring to the show. Kahn gave the pair the Fleetwood Mac classic Go Your Own Way as their Battle song. Having enlisted the help of multi-award winning recording artist Elvis Blue to be #TeamKahn’s co-coach, Zee and Monique went about rehearsing tirelessly for their big show-down. “You can see that both of these strong vocalists are very hungry to make it through,” Elvis observed ahead of the Battle, and both ladies performed accordingly. Karen said that Zee’s performance resonated with her from the start, and Lira agreed with her. Bobby felt that Monique’s top range was “magic” but in the end, Kahn sided with his fellow female coaches and picked Zee and her “seductive voice” to advance into the next rounds.
• Karen paired Lindo Sithole with the interesting brother and sister duo The Massers from Pretoria. She explained to them that her decision was based on the “soulfulness” of all of their vocals, and she gave them the track Missing by Everything But The Girl to perform in their sing-off. “Shocking!” Lindo lamented, as he had never heard of the song, but with the help of Karen’s long-time muso friend and co-coach Emo Adams, Lindo and John and Lillian Masser did the hard work to turn the song into their own. “Everyone is just so unique – we have three very authentic voices here,” Emo noted. After the moving performance with some incredible harmonies, Kahn told Karen that he would pick Lindo due to the “frailty” of his voice and the fact that “it bears his soul when he sings.” Karen agreed.
• Two of Lira’s biggest female vocalists, namely dance teacher Michelle Benham, 27, from Johannesburg and Tender Mavundla, 35, from Port Shepstone had to make the grade with Beyonce’s Irreplaceable – a tough challenge by any measure. When it came to the stage rehearsals, Tender had many misgivings and insecurities, becoming overwhelmed by all the performance and vocal guidelines that she was given. But she persevered, and in the end, she and Michelle had one of the fiercest Battles of the night, with Bobby praising them both for pulling off a Beyonce song. Despite her insecurities, Tender’s hard work paid off as Lira declared her the winner.
Next week Sunday viewers will see who will join Sunday’s winners and “Steals” after more nail-biting battles.