Idols judge Unathi, Somizi and Randall. Picture: Instagram
Idols judge Unathi, Somizi and Randall. Picture: Instagram

Randall Abrahams talks about 15 years of 'Idols SA'

By Amanda Maliba Time of article published Sep 10, 2019

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As "Idols SA" celebrates 15 years of producing stars like Karabo, Khaya Mthethwa, Musa Sekwene, Paxton and most recent winner Yanga, Randall Abrahams also celebrates the 15 years feat. 

He took time out of his busy schedule to answer: 

What has been the notable growth of the show?

I'd like to make a comparison to building a structure. One starts with a plan, a firm foundation and a great team to execute. If those elements remain in place and on track, one can easily build a skyscraper.

Describe your 15 years of being part of the show? 

So much has changed, and yet so many elements have remained the same. When the show first started, the world was still getting over Y2K fears. Anyone in their late teens would have to Google that bit to understand. No-one on the SA team at the time had any comprehension of just how successful the show might be, or the broader impact on the music industry. Personally, I can recall the first time I was recognised (long before the selfie era). I had to start taking deep breaths, and everything in my stride.

Is there any particular time that stood out for you? 

The success of the show has been the consistency of the overall effort of all those involved. The focus of the team to always strive for another milestone. The contestants who may have hits and win awards beyond the show. A special mention must be made of the show's producer Anneke de Ridder, who along with director Gavin Wratten has been there since day 1.

Why have you been on Idols SA for this long?

It continues to be an amazing ride. There is simply no reason to get off.

What is your favourite thing about the show?

There are so many facets. The amazing team – from styling and make-up, to the musicians, the technical team, producers, director, channel, host, fellow judges. And the contestants of course. There's always a lot of fun around the team, and a lot to learn from.

What is your least favourite thing about the show?

That's pretty easy – the bad singers.

Do you ever go beyond the call of duty and give contestants additional guidance?

As judges, we spend very little time with the contestants off-camera. I feel that they should glean as much as possible from our on screen comments and take them to heart if they believe they're of value.

If your life was a musical, what would the marquee say?

'Your name here!'

Is giving people honest opinions, that might not sit well with them or the public, an easy thing to do for you? 

It's become easier. I do recall judging a music competition in Cape Town before Idols (I was at Good Hope FM at the time). The crowd was fully behind a Whitney Houston wannabe, and along with the other judges a decision was made to award the #1 spot to a more 'original' singer. Needless to say, the crowd was unhappy; but it was the correct decision.

How have you managed to block out social media noise?

Simple. I'm not on social media. The profile I have on Instagram only revolves around Idols and baking.

How is it sharing a panel with Unathi and Somizi?

Wonderful. A real joy. They both have effervescent personalities; and their insights and perspectives are both valuable and sensitive. Off camera, we also really enjoy one another's company. I'm sure they'd agree that the show wouldn't be the same if we didn't all get along so well.

Can you describe yourself in a #hashtag? 


In the 15 years, what have you learnt most about South African talent and continue to learn about the importance of music in general?

I learnt that there's always something to learn. Even the most grizzled industry vet doesn't have all the answers. It's the other side of being a contestant and believing that everything is new just because you're experiencing it for the first time.

Which is your favourite part of the show and why?

Top 10. The fascination lies with how the public will vote, and how the contestants respond to the outcomes on a weekly basis. It's a bit like a political campaign trail; with numerous twists and turns.

On a scale of 1 - 10 how excited are you about life right now? 

11!  I've just started playing guitar (a little over 3 months now) and it's been some voyage. I can apply all my theoretical musical knowledge, but the hands still have to do the work. So much to learn. 

* This story has been selected as study material for the National High Schools Quiz final. For more stories click 

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