Young South African Opera Singer Wows New York

A young South African opera singer, who has overcome incredible adversity and personal tragedies, shone as one of the stars at the 2012 TEDx Teen conference in SoHo, New York City on March 31st.

Mteta Maphoyi
Mteta Maphoyi, Pic Source: TedX Teen website

The TEDx Teen event is styled upon the renowned TED Talks but with the focus on teenagers and their ability to change the world.

Mteto Maphoyi was only four-years-old when his father walked out on the family, leaving behind a Pavarotti CD. As Mteto tells it in the interviews below, the CD was to be his salvation, inspiring a purpose and career in the young boy…and forging a connection between him and his father forever.

“It was all I had of my father,” he says. Mteto didn’t understand the lyrics, but he “could feel my own emotions in it”.

At nine, he formed a group called the Six Tenors, and taught the others how to sing by coaching them to “shout as high as you can and remember that feeling”.

Their practice sessions paid off, and soon they were singing to tourists and earning “money to help our parents”.

Today, at 22-years-old, Mteto is grateful for how much music has helped him to bring in money, to have self-worth and because “it reminds me of my father a lot. Music is my connection to him”.

Mteto’s father passed away 11 years after he abandoned his family, and Mteto only saw him once in that time.

Mteto also credits one other special person in his life for turning things around for him – film-maker Laura Gamse who cast him as one of the subjects in her 2011 documentary ‘The Creators‘, a move that has opened doors for him and helped him escape the gang life he had immersed himself in after his mother died of HIV/AIDS.

He says that Gamse had “heard rumours about me” when she was making her documentary, and came to Hermanus looking for “the singer with a scar” (a knife-scar he received during his crime-ridden days).

When she started asking him questions for her documentary, he realised he needed to make something of his life.

Today the world is his oyster. He’s receiving formal training at South Africa’s prestigious Black Tie Ensemble at the State Theatre in Pretoria, singing in New York and featuring in a documentary that’s being shown around the world!

Watch Mteto perform at TEDx Teen plus interview; and scroll down for Documentary Tour Schedule:

South African opera singer Mteto Maphoyi performs “Marechiare” at the 2012 TEDxTeen conference in New York City:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UUMMwVEbU0

Watch video interviews at the TEDxTeen conference with Mteto:

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDO47zesqJw

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErtkSQpEd6w

The documentary will be shown at the following venues over the next couple of months:

April 11, 2012: New York, New York, USA

NEW YORK AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL

Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center

April 20, 2012 @ 8 PM: Warsaw, Poland

AFRYKAMERA FILM FESTIVAL

Hall 3, Kinoteka, Plac Defilad 1

April 21, 2012 @ 7 PM: Austin, TX, USA

MONKEYWRENCH BOOKS

April 25, 2012: Fort Collins, Colorado

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY

Program of International Development Studies

April 26, 2012 @ 9:35 PM: Lawrence, Kansas, USA

AFRICA WORLD DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL

Spencer Museum of Art

April 27, 2012 @ 9 PM: Claremont, CA, USA

POMONA COLLEGE ALUMNI WEEKEND

Rose Hills Theatre

May 6, 2012 @ 5 PM: Ile-Ife, Nigeria

AFRICA WORLD DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL

Obafemi Awolowo University

May 16, 2012 @ 7:30: Arlington, VA, USA

ARTISPHERE

Dome Theatre

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