Based: Cape Town
Afro-operatic pop sensations The Gugulethu Tenors have become a household name in South Africa since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2011. They have performed at some of SA’s top events and festivals, shared stages with local and international headliners, and been featured extensively in local and international media, whilst their fan base continues to expand, covering a wide and diverse audience.
Their journey to success, which started more than 10 years ago as four high school learners’ respective dreams of being on stage, has been widely publicised and serves as an inspiration to many.
Performance highlights include representing SA during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, captivating thousands at Cape Town’s FanFests with their soothing harmonies and remarkable voices, boasting standing-ovations at festivals like ABSA KKNK, Aardklop Arts Festival, Cultivaria and Klein Karoo Klassique to name a few, wowing corporate audiences across the country, and performing to politicians, dignitaries and superstars including Oprah Winfrey, Chris Rock and Mariah Carey.
These self-taught vocalists, Mpendulo Yawa, Siyabulela Gqola, Xolani November and Loyiso Dlova, were selected from scores of hopeful entries at Fezeka High School in Gugulethu to enter a music competition called the Prompt Voice Search. They won first place for the best group category and have never looked back. They went on to win various other local competitions, and today this four-piece – who have been described as “South Africa’s Il Divo”, “Pavarotti’s Children” and “the Diamond of the Township” – are living their dream and enchanting the concert halls and corporate stages of South Africa with their collective song.
While their peers enjoy Kwaito, Hip Hop and Rap, the Gugulethu Tenors pursue their inherent love of Opera, a genre which is not traditionally associated with the township. By incorporating contemporary and subtle ethnic elements in their music, they have made the genre their own, capturing the hearts of audiences across South Africa and beyond with their raw talent. Their repertoire includes operatic favourites such as O Sole Mio, Nessun Dorma and Nella Fantasia, as well as popular songs like The Prayer, Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata and even Gé Korsten’s Liefling. Their original compositions like O Afrika! and Nyamezela have audiences on their feet at every performance. The Gugulethu Tenors’ ambition goes beyond success as performers – collectively they aim to be role models for South Africa’s youth and, through their singing, to showcase the richness and diversity of South Africa’s cultural heritage.