Surprise musical talent uncovered

IN LESS than a year, a Gamtoos River teenager has gone from never singing to achieving a podium finish in the annual TeenZone competition and releasing his debut gospel album.

Until October last year, Jacques Gerber, 17, was oblivious to his special gift for singing.

Talent scouts from TeenZone called the Grade 11 pupil out of his class at Hananja Academic Private School to audition for the show, which set off a chain of events that led to his debut gospel album, Broken Chains, being released this month.

Jacques said he was initially hesitant to audition.

"TeenZone came to our school last year and the teachers and children basically forced me to sing," he said.

"I ended up winning our school auditions and was sent to Cape Town for the final with 68 other participants from around the country. I was placed second overall and allowed studio time to record two songs."

Jacques returned home and began voice coaching at Iloreez Meyer Singing Academy in Despatch to nurture his newly discovered talent.

After several months of training at the academy and performing at local churches and funeral services, he returned to Cape Town for a week in June to record the remaining nine songs for his 11-track album.

"We did the recordings at Southern Buzz Studios in Cape Town. I know it's not the usual thing for a teenager to sing gospel, but I decided on it because I like it. But it must have a nice rhythm and a strong message.

"It is a mixture of Afrikaans and English songs. The mix of songs is aimed at helping people from all walks of life break free from the things that are holding them back to live with the Lord in their heart," he said.

This message is strongly supported by his father, Sarel Gerber.

"I am immensely proud of Jacques. From hardly having heard him sing to him releasing an album in less than a year is a big accomplishment. The album has songs from artists such as Joe Niemand and Fredi Nest and a few others, which he performs well.

"But we are starting to write songs for him so he can start performing more of his own unique sound in the future," he said. The album is available at local music stores and at - Tremaine van Aardt