SA-linked prodigy a YouTube sensation

Published Feb 28, 2014


When Amira Willighagen arrived at Vergelegen Wine Estate on Thursday, one could be forgiven for mistaking her for a typical child on holiday with her family.

Few in South Africa could possibly know that one of the world’s youngest star singers had arrived in Cape Town.

The nine-year-old has 15 million views on YouTube after appearing on Holland’s Got Talent.

And many of those viewers have come to know of the child’s “African connection” – that her mother was South African – and that she is in town, partly, to reconnect with her African history.

On Friday night and Saturday she will be one of the performers at the Starlight Classics concerts at Vergelegen, Somerset West.

Her path to stardom began when she taught herself how to sing by watching YouTube videos.

Her mother, Frieda Willighagen, was born in South Africa and moved to the Netherlands in 1995, but her grandmother, Elsa Brand, remained in Potchefstroom until she died in November last year.

“When Amira was seven, during a family visit to her grandmother, she went to the township of Ikageng,” her publicity machine reported.

“What she saw there really moved her, as she thought to herself that the children in the area had in her view ‘nothing to do, and nowhere to play’.

“Amira promptly decided she desperately wanted to donate money to the Ikageng township for the benefit of the children, should she ever have the opportunity.

“Amira has now undertaken to donate 50 percent of her earnings from her SA concerts towards realising her dreamed-about playground project for the young children of Ikageng.”

She attended a rehearsal at Vergelegen on Thursday.

A typical playful child, she sang happily, speaking in Dutch, with an occasional hint of Afrikaans.

She and her fellow performers will be accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra under the creative baton of top South African conductor Richard Cock. - Cape Argus

Related Topics: