As is often the case, the kids who do not make it on talent shows are usually the ones who end up making it in the music industry.

Take Jennifer Hudson and Zamajobe, who picked up the pieces of their broken hearts and tried again – to great success. Connell Cruise is another of these brave characters.

After entering Idols SA in the year which Elvis Blue won, Cruise (pictured) quickly got over the fact that he didn’t get as far in he competition as he had hoped and instead focused on making it big in the music business.

“I studied law and theology but music is part of my life. Friends and family encouraged me to audition for Idols and although I did not win, that experience opened doors for me,” says Cruise.

“After the experience one of my demos landed at David Gresham Records and they gave me a call and they asked if I was interested in working with them. I could not believe it and so I jumped at that chance,” he said.

This gave birth to his self-titled album, a pop soul offering full of infectious tunes. The man also adds some interesting ballads to balance what could have been a dance-along CD.

The 26-year-old singer and pianist loves to express himself in more ways than one – which can only bode well for his chosen career path.

When he suffered from a serious break-up, although he thought he was fine, he found himself writing songs about how he felt.

“I broke up with this girl a while ago and when it happened I didn’t even see what was going on. She called for us to meet and she basically told me that she wanted us to be friends.

“I said okay, but when I left there, I decided I didn’t want to be just friends with her and so I wrote Not Just Friends,” he explains.

The song has two variations on the album and the singer added that he wrote the song in a way that everyone could relate to.

“I am not telling my story in the song but I am just using my experiences to tell a story of what could happen in love.

“In fact, the song is the exact words of what I should have said when she broke up with me. I hope someone out there has the guts to say what I didn’t,” he explained.

But that bad fortune has brought Cruise some success – at some point Not Just Friends topped Justin Timberlake’s hit Mirrors on 94.7 Highveld Stereo’s Top 40.

“It has been a very interesting journey and when I got on the number one spot on radio it was exciting.

“My other highlight was being an opening act at the Joburg Day celebrations where I performed to a sea of about 25 000 people,” he enthuses.

Although he lost to Blue and Lloyd Cele on Idols SA, Cruise maintains that he remains good friends with them.

“I was fortunate to be invited to the Samas and I sat in a front row seat which had both Lloyd and Elvis sitting close by.

“We acknowledged each other and I appreciated that after the show we are all nothing short of hungry musicians,” he said.


• Connell Cruise’s self-titled album is available at music stores and on iTunes.