UCT student Richard Stirton is the very first winner of M-Net's proudly South African singing contest The Voice South Africa.
The 22-year-old BCom management student fell to the floor when host Lungile Radu called his name, announcing that he was the first winner of The Voice South Africa.
“It feels unbelievable to have won the show. I still haven't fully been able to process it. I'm on top of the world this morning and am just trying to soak up every second,” says Stirton. “I feel very privileged to have won though, and I am very excited for what's to come.”
A large banner was recently wrapped around the roof of Woodstock's Stardust restaurant, which is visible to motorists leaving the city on the N2. The banner urged Capetonians to vote for Stirton, who is a former singing waiter at the theatrical dining establishment.
“The growth and experience I was able to achieve because of this wonderful place [Stardust] has been invaluable to me. Being surrounded by so many talented musicians who all helped me with tons of hints and tips made the world of difference to my singing,” says Stirton.
Stirton, who has since stopped working and put his studies on hold, recently made headlines after his rendition of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “The Sound of Silence” reached the top of the South African iTunes chart.
In the finale on Sunday evening, he competed against Gavin Edwards, another competition favourite, in the top two. Despite controversy after the announcement of a voting glitch from the live show, votes from previous shows were tallied up to determine the ultimate winner.
While Stirton walks away with a recording deal from Universal Music and prizes worth over R800 000, fellow contestant and UCT alumnus Zoe Modiga‚ who did not make it through to the top four, was also given a recording deal.
Stirton plans to use this opportunity to release his original music, which he always dreamed would reach a wider audience.
“I have tried to stay true to my sound throughout this competition, so you can expect a similar sound to the way in which I have reworked some of the covers I have done,” says Stirton.
He advises aspiring musicians to never forget why they started making music and to just keep at it and never give up.
“Six months ago I was studying for exams at UCT; now I am looking at the possibility of a career in the music industry,” he says. “Keep practising. Just know there is someone out there who is practising more than you are. There's always room for improvement.”
Story Chido Mbambe. Photo The Voice South Africa.
Watch videos of Stirton's performances in the finale:
Coldplay's “Viva la Vida”
Michael Jackson's “Billie Jean”
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