The judges have decided – Idols SA season 18 officially has a top 12.
For its current season, Idols has chosen a smaller top group with only 12 instead of the usual 16 hopeful singers. They will compete in the weekly live performances starting Sunday, 28 August.
In Sunday’s episode on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), 32 contestants were culled to just 12 after the gruelling so-called “theatre week”.
In the group of 12, seven contestants have entered Idols in previous seasons, and several can play instruments.
Ranging from 18 to 29, the top 12 contestants will now compete for votes from DStv subscribers in live performances at Pretoria’s Heartfelt Arena.
Meet the top 12 contestants here:
Ceejay (24), Stranger
Third time lucky – that saying applies to Ceejay, the musician who didn’t receive a golden ticket in season 16 before narrowly missing out on a place in the top 16 during season 17.
Growing up in a musical family (his parents were in a band together), he spends his time singing, making beats on his computer and playing instruments.
Hope (23), Pretoria
Hope started singing at age five and participated in many school plays. She says that joining the Midlands Youth Choir opened a new avenue of what music could sound like.
After years of thinking about entering, Hope decided now was a perfect time. “I wasn’t ready earlier than this,” she says, having just completed studying musical theatre at the Tshwane University of Technology. She says viewers can expect soul – and more – from her musical performances: “I know that the way I perform and translate music to people will leave a beautiful mark.”
Kabelo (24), Pietermaritzburg
Kabelo is no stranger to the Idols stage, having previously entered in season 16. After being eliminated during the group stages, he says he is back to prove a point.
His musical journey began at 15 when he and his twin brother learned how to play the guitar and keyboard through YouTube videos. During the live shows, he hopes to beat the nerves and articulate the emotions of each song without holding back. “I also want to connect with the crowd. I aim to give it my all every Sunday and to have fun, too,” he says.
Lerato (27), Johannesburg
It’s been several years since Lerato first entered Idols. After a period of losing confidence in her capabilities as a singer, she is back with a bang. “This year, I had the courage and bravery to enter again,” she says. She has found her second time on Idols SA to be a fun process that she’s grateful for. “I want to inspire people to know that you shouldn’t let your dreams die. Don’t give up on your dreams. Even if it takes forever, it can actually happen for you one day.”
Mpilwenhle (23), Johannesburg
After spending years honing her sound and gaining more understanding of herself as a musician, Mpilwenhle felt that now was finally the time to enter Idols. She says about her Idols journey so far, “It’s taught me to always be prepared for anything. You have to bring your A-game. It’s showing us flames, but I like the flames.” While she’s nervous about the live performances, she’s more thrilled than anything. “I am excited to get on the stage, pour my heart out and leave it on the stage.”
Nandi (21), Johannesburg
“Music is my life. It is a part of me,” says Nandi of her passion. Her love of music began at an early age, thanks to her musical hero – her father – who is also a musician. She initially found an appreciation for the art through spending time with him in the studio. Nandi is no stranger to the stage as she has been performing from a young age as part of her church choir, then later at the Market Theatre. Describing herself as a fearless performer, she says viewers can expect to see “something different” when she takes the stage.
Noxolo (25), Durban
Noxolo began singing at age five, playing music with her dad, and cemented her relationship with music through church. Humbled to have reached the top 12, she says she believes she has a gift that the world will finally get to see. She is most excited about the upcoming live performances and hopes the audience will get to connect with her. Noxolo says viewers can expect her live performances to be unique, rare and spiritual.
Nozi (27), Durban
Nozi first entered Idols in 2016 but did not make it beyond the first cut. This year she is returning on a mission and looking forward to proving her talent. Nozi says viewers can expect “joy and excellence” when she hits the stage. She plans to set the stage alight and hopes the viewers will resonate with her performances. Like her musical heroes, former American Idol contestants Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia, she hopes for the competition to catapult her to the top.
Tesmin-Robyn (23), Johannesburg
Tesmin’s resilience has seen her enter Idols three times. Having made it as far as the top 16 previously, she hopes to make it all the way to the end this year. Describing herself as an ambivert who comes alive on stage, music has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember – she’s been singing since she was a toddler. She hopes for the competition to help her build a firm foundation for her future and the opportunity to network with other artists.
Thapelo (29), Pretoria
The self-confessed perfectionist Thapelo has spent the past few years honing his musical skills. In 2012, he joined a gospel group as a backing vocalist but is now ready to take the lead. After a few attempts at making a mark in the music business, he relishes being part of Idols, an experience he describes as the “biggest stage” he has been on. While he is open to trying out different genres, his passion lies in soul music. One of his musical heroes is Michael Bolton. “I’m all about love, and his personality is all about love,” he says.
Ty (21), Johannesburg
Ty had no idea he had entered Idols SA a second time until he received a phone call. It turns out his girlfriend had secretly sent in a video “just to see if the show would call back”.
Describing himself as a woke dreamer who appreciates life, Ty’s musical journey started at a very young age – he comes from a very musical family. He realised he could sing in Grade 3, and it has been his passion since. What can we expect when he hits the stage? “Viewers can expect a show. I will treat every performance as if it’s a gig. I will give it my all.”
Zee (18), Cape Town
This year’s youngest live show contestant began singing in Grade 2 after she joined the choir. As an Idols fan, the teenager decided to enter this year after matriculating in 2021 – her mother’s conditions were that she could enter the show after finishing school and getting good grades. When she is onstage, Zee says her voice takes over. She hopes to win the show but is looking forward to the overall opportunity to perform. She plans to give viewers her best. “It’s literally my heart that will be on that stage. I hope people feel that.”
Idols SA season 18 airs every Sunday on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) at 17:30.