Noma Khumalo, winner of Idols SA season 12, had been dubbed a vocal powerhouse early on in the singing competition, so it came as no surprise to viewers when she was announced the winner last Sunday.
A visibly shocked Khumalo, 21, stood next to fellow KwaZulu-Natal singer Thami Shobede as Idols host Proverb named her the winner of the competition, making her the first woman contestant to claim the top spot after seven seasons.
Those attending at the Roof Top Arena in Carnival City were certain Shobede would reign supreme judging by the screams he was receiving, but Khumalo said at no point did she feel like she was losing her chance to win.
She was nevertheless completely overwhelmed when her name was called, and began crying when it all sank in.
This was also controversial Idols judge Gareth Cliff’s final appearance after 11 seasons on the reality singing competition, having made his debut on the show in 2003.
During a press briefing after last weekend’s finale, Khumalo, who is also a teacher, said she wished she could call her pupils who had encouraged her to enter the competition and tell them the great news “even though they have probably watched and all know by now”.
During a whirlwind media tour earlier this week, Khumalo made the time to chat to Weekend Post about the next step in her career.
You have the single Want It To Feel like It Did With You out. Tell us what it’s about.
As we reached the top three in the competition, Gallo Records presented us with three original song selections.
This song speaks to me, because it’s about a girl who has left a message about how we all seek love, [and] desire to be loved (the single is now out on iTunes and GooglePlay).
From watching the show, one would say you are a R&B girl. Did this influence your song choice?
I’m definitely a R&B, soul and Afro-pop girl. A lot of times in the competition we were given a list of songs to sing and sometimes the song you’d loved to have sung, had already been chosen by someone else.
I’d always choose a ballad about something people could relate to. Songs with meaning and songs with a message behind them.
You’re off to the studio later this week. What sort of album are you looking to make?
I cannot really talk about it at the moment. I still need to sit down with the record company and discuss it.
I think they already have a vision for the album.
During the final, you debuted the music video for your single. How did you feel during the filming?
The set was a completely different atmosphere. Everyone was just excited to be there.
It was amazing to work with Charl Fraser, the director, and seeing everything come together and come to life. I enjoyed every hour and every minute of being there.
During the Top 10 phase, who did you consider your biggest competition?
Just like judge Randall [Abrahams] said, it is anyone’s game. Everyone in that room was talented – still is.
Everyone has such great potential but in the end it’s inevitably up to the voters – who they see as their Idol for South Africa.
On Sunday, you performed Nomakanjani with Nathi, one of the biggest stars in the country at the moment. What was that like?
It was an honour to share the stage with him, because I’d only ever seen him on TV and heard him on the radio.
I had such a super fan moment backstage. I was in shock – I didn’t believe he was actually singing with me. He’s such a legend.
What was your own favourite performance during the show?
It would have to be when I sang Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up because a week before the performance I experienced a little bit of a downfall in my life.
God, however, pulled me through and I was there just to give thanks.
I also really enjoyed the dancing in Beyonce’s Daddy Lessons. Everyone seemed to be having such fun.
Would you encourage other singing hopefuls to enter Idols?
Yes, if it’s something you want to do or feel like you have talent, even if you’re not sure. I was encouraged by school kids to enter and I had to go home and really think about it.
If they hadn’t encouraged me I would not be here. I’m forever grateful to them and to God.
How do you feel about breaking the women’s seven-season drought?
It’s an honour that the ladies have made me imbokodo (their rock).
I don’t take the title for granted at all and hope I serve as an inspiration to other girls, showing them anything is possible if they put their minds to it.