A PORT Elizabeth-born singer has gone from playing on the streets of Zwide to singing for one of the world’s best known and most beloved statesmen – former president Nelson Mandela.
Thando Mhlontlo, 30, received the opportunity of a lifetime when he performed for Mandela at his Houghton home last night.
The performance was also filmed as part of an online documentary series created by Days of Our Lives actors Arianne Zucker and Jason Cook, called LifeCHANGE.
"I’m very excited. This is going to open so many doors for me,” Mhlontlo said after performing last night.
"Who would have thought a simple guy from Zwide without a background of music would be performing for such a crowd. If I can do it, anyone can. Don’t let them tell you you can’t. Do what you love and love what you do.”
Mhlontlo, who is known as Roger Soulstar, performed Uyindoda emadodeni because it honoured those who had contributed to the country.
"This song is about those men who are working hard not only for themselves but also for the benefit of their country – the kind of man who has respect for others – and I hope that it will bring a smile to Madiba’s face,” he said before the performance.
While nervous before he performed, Mhlontlo – who was raised by single mother Misiwe Windvoel, who died in 2009 – said he had been rehearsing with his band for a week.
"This is a really big thing for me as an artist and hopefully it is a platform to bigger things in my music career.”
The performance was organised by his manager Ndaba Mandela – Mandela’s grandchild – who has created many opportunities since they met at The Wild actress Connie Ferguson’s 40th birthday two years ago.
"I want to use this platform to show aspiring musicians that there is nothing impossible if you believe in yourself. Especially if they are from PE, they should just believe in themselves and follow their dreams,” he said.
Mhlontlo’s love for music started at a young age when he joined a Bay church choir.
In 2006, he decided to pursue his music career, leaving Port Elizabeth for Johannesburg.
He only managed to release his first album, which had 12 tracks, in 2008.
One of the songs from his album, Umfo, is part of the Big Brother Canada soundtrack.
Mhlontlo, proud father of an eight- month-old girl, Lilitha – "the queen of my heart” – has also appeared on Jam Alley, Afro Cafe and Weekend Live.