With a legacy of more than 50 years, the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition is ready to chime in new opportunities for some of our country’s best emerging artists.

If music sets your soul alight then the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition (#OSchols2019) is one to keep a close eye on. The countdown for one of South Africa’s most respected music awards has begun, and there’s a palpable excitement building.

What lies at the heart of the music industry is not just unearthing new talent. As every great piece of music starts with a note (#ItStartsWithANote), great musicians start with talent that needs to be cultivated to grow into something phenomenal. Developing local artists remains the most significant, consistent driving force behind SAMRO Foundation’s Overseas Scholarships Competition. While passion for music is often inherent, how that passion evolves can be radically shaped by the gift of opportunity. Many South African artists miss a crucial opportunity that can make or break their careers and this is where an overseas scholarship can be a game-changer.

“South Africa’s talent pool is immense. We have unique and diverse artists coming on to the stage every day who have the markings of true future stars. Many of these artists slip through the cracks – not due to a lack of talent but rather a lack of financial support. Our aim is to give these artists the opportunity to take the gifts they already possess and establish a career for themselves where they can showcase their potential. A SAMRO scholarship is one piece in the puzzle which creates a strong foundation for supporting artists in their success,” notes Andre Le Roux, Managing Director of the SAMRO Foundation.

The competition – which follows a four-year cycle alternating between singers, composers, instrumentalists and keyboard-players – spans over three rounds and is adjudicated by a panel of music experts. Earlier this year, SAMRO Foundation administrators and a distinguished panel of carefully selected adjudicators completed an intensive selection process, narrowing down a pool of candidates to 12 semi-finalists – six in Jazz and six in Western Art Music. These sensational talents from across the country will now face the music and compete live during the semi-final round.

This year’s top six in the Jazz music category are:

  • Cape Town’s Ms Jodi Fredericks
  • East London’s Mr Liso Gcwabe
  • Jo’burg’s Ms Daniëlla Hart
  • Free State’s Ms Keorapetse Kolwane
  • Jo’burg’s Ms Nelisiwe Molaba
  • Pretoria’s Mr Tshepo Tshabalala

The Western Art music category’s semi-finalists are:

  • Ga-Rankuwa’s Ms Goitsemang Lehobye
  • Pretoria’s Ms Moloko Letsoalo
  • Free State’s Ms Thembinkosi Magagula
  • Kroonstad’s Ms Palesa Malieloa
  • Free State’s Mr Nkululeko Masuku
  • Jo’burg’s Mr Makudupanyane Senaoana

Many of SAMRO’s previous winners and finalists of the competition have achieved significant local and international success. Levy Sekgapane, sensational South African tenor, had a winning streak in 2015. Not only did he win the Belvedere International Singing Competition for young opera singers and the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition for Singers, but went on to compete and win the Montserrat Caballé competition in Spain. In 2017 he won the 25th Operalia World Opera Competition held in Kazakhstan – considered as one of the world’s most prestigious competitions for opera singers – and in 2018, he made it on to the Forbes 30 ‘under 30’ list in the category ‘Europe – Art & Culture’ for his contribution to the opera music landscape. Zoë Modiga (2015) became a household name as one of the popular contestants in the first season of The Voice SA. She released her debut album Yellow: The Novel in March 2017, which received two SAMA nominations. Multi-award winning pianist and composer Bokani Dyer (2013) won the 2019 Best Jazz Album at the SAMA’s and is now performing at London’s prestigious Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Prince Bulo (2014) is now a leading multifaceted and multinational musician having landed gigs with notable artists and has recorded with exciting modern acts such as Shekhinah, Afrotraction, and Mi Casa. Mandla Mlangeni (2012) has been producing two albums a year, with one featured as a New Yorker pick of 2018. He is presently Standard Bank’s featured artist, joining at least seven of the scholarships’ laureates as a winner of the Standard Band Young Artist Award. Linda Sikhakhane (2016) recently graduated with his Masters in Jazz at the New York School, receiving congratulations from Minister of Arts & Culture Nathi Mthethwa.

SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition will culminate in a final event held on Saturday 17 August 2019 at the Linder auditorium in Parktown, Johannesburg, where four finalists – two in each category – will compete against each other to reveal two winners, who will walk away with R200 000 each to make it possible to live their musical dreams. The final round is open to the public, features live accompaniment, special guests and performances of a selection of musical works, including premieres of South African compositions, specially commissioned for the occasion.