WHEN Lino Slate prepared to introduce her music partner, the audience had no idea that it was just a little boy. But when he took the mic and sang one of Donny McClurkin’s songs everyone went quiet as he sent shivers through the audience.
By the end of their performance, the audience gave them a standing ovation. That was on March 29, when Liyahluma, 7, and his mother Lino, 33, shot their debut DVD at the PE Opera House. Fast forward and the duo who are calling themselves Redemen are the talk of the town and, if all goes well, little Liya might be heading his way to Drankensberg Boys Choir .
It is clear music runs in the Slate family as Liya started singing professionally last year when he was six years old. He followed in the footsteps of his mother who also started singing when she was six.
At that point she joined the Angels of Joy, she recalls.
“I started noticing that my son was musically gifted when he was four years old. He was different from his other siblings as he spent most of his time listening to music.
“Last year he insisted on going wherever I was going. His big break came when he was asked to share the stage with Jazz artist Pu2ma Tiso who had a show at Nangoza Jebe in November last year.
“People were impressed by his voice and that is when I decided to start a family band,” said Lino, who is a stage manager for the Eastern Cape Junior Children’s Choir.
She shared that at times they also perform with her firstborn son, Yibanathi, 10, who is a budding poet.
Lino went on to say that, like every child, Liya loves his Spiderman cartoons – but he never misses his musical rehearsals.
“We get bookings all over Nelson Mandela Bay and I make sure that his music does not interfere with his Grade 2 studies.
“I manage his time and I always tell him that education is his first priority, then music will come after. A well-known artist had him sing and he was so impressed that he is trying to get him a scholarship to go to the Drakensberg Boys’ school. Unfortunately at the moment I can’t say much about it.”
During the interview, Liya was running about with his peers as they waited to start their rehearsals with the choir.
But once the camera starts clicking, he changes altogether and starts posing like the little star that he is.
He shares that he likes gospel music.
“I like singing gospel music because it is about Jesus. “I enjoy performing with my mom, and my father Mthunzi is my role model. One day I want to be like Donny McClurkin, Keke Phofolo, Benjamin Dube and Mzoxolo Bebula,” he said, before running away to play with his friends.
Redemen are working on their debut album which will be released later this year. – Yoliswa Sobuwa