The Voice grand runner-up Thando Sikwila credits Canberra music teacher for meteoric rise | West Central Daily

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The Voice grand runner-up Thando Sikwila may now live in Melbourne, but she spent most of her school years in Canberra, where her music career really began. On Sunday, the 29-year-old mother-of-one takes on three other singers in The Voice grand finale, all vying for $100,000 in prize money and a record deal with Universal Music Australia. Xanthe Campbell, a local 12th grade student from ACT’s Dickson College, also came painfully close to the grand final, retiring in the semis despite a powerful rendition of abcdefu by Gayle. Thando secured his big final spot with a stunning POV rendition of Ariana Grande. And if Thando wins on Sunday, she’ll be thinking of her Lake Ginninderra music teacher, Joella Keech, who she says is the reason for her singing career. “She was always very supportive. She always knew I had something to offer the world,” Thando said. “At that age, you don’t really expect anyone to believe in you but she’s always barred for me. Any performance opportunity, she would push me on stage.” Joella Keech was actually instrumental in persuading Lake Ginninderra College to sponsor Thando to attend an industry-organized singing workshop in Melbourne while she was still in school. “I literally owe everything I have in music to her fighting for me,” Thando said. “If I didn’t have that, I don’t know if it would happen to me.” But it happens. Highligths. The four grand finalists released a new original track ahead of the grand finale. The singles were selected in collaboration with each artist, who worked with top producers and songwriters to showcase their vocals. Thando, who was mentored by country star Keith Urban, released an uplifting song called The Other Side, about taking risks and “not fighting your fate anymore”. Thando came to Australia with her family in 2001 from Zimbabwe and settled first in Canberra where they remained for a decade. She also went to Macquarie Primary and Canberra High. Life was sometimes hard. “Back then, people weren’t used to seeing people like us, especially in Canberra,” she said. “I think a lot of people who migrated went to other cities. Canberra was very sheltered. So some people just didn’t know how to respond to someone who was so different. It was. There’s had a few incidents but nothing that I haven’t grown and developed thick skin as a result. You just know that stuff happens because people are ignorant and they don’t realize that we are all human beings. grandmother is Professor Kathryn Robinson from the Australian National University. The severe COVID closures in Melbourne forced the young family to temporarily move back to Canberra. I was at daycare here and it was a really good way to be Canberran for a while,’ she said. ‘I had never been back to Canberra as an adult for a long time. I had really only been back to visit and we almost moved permanently because we didn’t know honest don’t lie what was going to happen.” Whatever happens on Sunday, Thando has big plans for his future. “I feel really lucky to have at this stage of the competition. I think I was able to show Australia that I can do a lot of different things with my voice,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to make Eurovision. I would love to represent Australia on the world stage and I think it would show how vibrant and multicultural our country is, that a visibly diverse woman represents Australia on a platform like that, I think it would be amazing.”


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