2014/02/23 DURBAN. Sisters Sinethemba Gabuza(left) and Noluthando Gabuza auditioning for the clash of the choir and they got a call back. PICTURE: SIYANDA MAYEZA

Hundreds of KwaZulu-Natal hopefuls spent the weekend queuing in Durban for the chance to audition for the second season of hit music talent show Clash of the Choirs.

The stakes are high for KZN, as last year’s competition was won by a 20-member choir from this province, and led by uMlazi-born Idols SA winner Khaya Mthethwa.

The aspiring singers who gathered at the University of KZN’s Howard College campus performed before judges who included Idols season nine contestant Bunny Majaja and musical director RJ Benjamin.

This year, musician and producer Robbie Malinga replaced Mthethwa as KZN’s choirmaster, and will be competing against choirs led by rapper Lebo “Shugasmakx” Mothibe and hip hop artist Jabulani Tsambo, who is better known as Hip Hop Pantsula.

The contestants are allowed to sing any song from any genre, and may perform solo or as part of an already established choir.

If they perform well before the preliminary judges, they move on to the second round to try to impress Malinga.

While a few of those who auditioned when The Mercury was there did not know a baritone from a tenor, Malinga said he was battling to whittle the talent down to just 20.

By lunchtime on Sunday, he had put 200 contestants through to the third round of eliminations.

Among them were Pietermaritzburg sisters, alto Sinethemba, 26, and soprano Noluthando Gabuza, 25.

The sisters said they began singing as children, and came from a musical family.

Should they make the final cut, they will be putting their studies in human resources and in public relations on hold.

Benjamin, who is part of the audition process in each of the seven competing provinces, said it was “intense”.

He said the show was a platform for the transfer of knowledge, because each of the choirs would return to their communities having had experiences such as voice training and learning to read music.

He said that while Idols SA was a search for a single standout talent, Clash of the Choirs was looking for singers who could blend well to form a unit. - The Mercury