A star on the rise
This Saturday, 23-year-old Thuto Rantao sang her way into the hearts of the nation to clinch the 2021 My African Dream (M.A.D) crown.
Having hypnotized the judges and public alike with her pitch-perfect voice and on-stage energy (her stunning good looks didn’t hurt either!), Thuto’s dream is just beginning as she sets her sights on a career in music.
The daughter of Women of Jazz, Kearoma Rantao – indeed her superstar mother was her backup vocalist at the grand finale in Gaborone – Thuto has greatness in her blood.
While her rise to stardom was seemingly inevitable it was certainly spectacular!
Fresh from her stunning victory, the petite singer visited The Voice’s headquarters this week where she sat down with SHARON MAHALA to reminisce over a M.A.D few days.
Before we get into it, I noticed you did not show any emotion when you were announced as the winner – why was that?
To be honest I did not know what was going on! I guess I could not believe it when my name was called.
I looked at the videos the following morning and I understand why this question cropped up.
But nonetheless, I am very grateful for the win and the support.
Makes sense. So for those who don’t know you, how would you introduce yourself?
Well, now I would start my interactions as a M.A.D winner!
But besides that, I am a 23-year-old girl from Ramotswa, raised by my grandmother.
I dropped out of school at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) because the course wasn’t doing it for me.
I am a waitress at an upmarket restaurant called Main Deck and I am a singer.
You dropped out of school?
Well yes, I was studying Fashion Design and it was not what I wanted to do.
I actually want to study Real Estate.
Real Estate and music, two extremely time-consuming, demanding professions don’t you think?
Well yes but if I was to choose right now, at this very moment I would go for music.
That is where my heart is at the moment.
Growing up in the shadow of a superstar mother, would you say that made things easier or more difficult for you?
If you’re talking in reference to this competition well it was not easy.
She was pushing me a little too hard!
We fought a lot, so much so that at times I wanted to give up.
But to be honest I would not have made it this far if it was not for my mother’s support.
But this is not her time it’s mine right? (laughs)
It is indeed! So there were times you wanted to give up?
There was just too much pressure.
Plus my mother’s associate was one of the judges and I would get comments early on in the competition that I was going to be favored because of that.
It really demoralized me at one point.
Thank goodness you persevered! So how did you eventually audition for M.A.D?
Actually, I joined the auditions on the very last day.
My mother had heard about the competition and literally instructed me to send her a short video of me singing and she submitted it for me and I made the cut.
What would you say set you apart from the rest of the contestants?
I would say my voice.
My voice is what got me this far.
The journey was not an easy one.
The competition was really tough from the onset.
There were really talented contestants this year.
Have you always been into singing?
I would not say so; it is something I picked up very late in my life.
But I have always loved music.
What are some of the judges’ comments that will live with you forever?
The good or the bad ones?
Let’s go with both…
Well, I was always told to hold my mic properly, especially when I hit the high notes.
And the other was they always told me to be comfortable with the stage and relax.
I noticed your song choices throughout the competition was a little unusual. What inspired such selections?
Most, if not all the songs I performed, I can relate with them.
If you noticed all the songs had a deep message behind them and it could be something I have personally gone through or what people around me have been through.
I have had people ask me to do others songs, maybe dance songs and stuff, but that is just not me, hence why I stuck to those types of songs.
And your choice for the grand finale, Sia’s ‘Angel by the Wings?’
Well, Sia is my all-time favourite artist.
Plus there is one line in the song that I hold dear and which gave me strength throughout the competition, which is “you can do anything”.
Apart from a slightly pushy mum, what challenges did you encounter in the competition?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t want to say, but it would have to be time management.
I don’t like people who are late.
It just disorientates me.
Tell me about your prizes.
Well, I won P30, 000 in cash on the night but I have also been told I will get other prizes worth P100, 000.
What are you going to do with the money?
I am not sure yet but I will most likely invest the money.
Wise decision! So, who was the first person you called after winning?
(Laughs) A friend and my grandmother.
And what is next for you?
Well, now I am going to start taking this music thing very seriously.
I am going to be spending a lot of time in the studio.
I have a project coming up with DJ Kuchi so I will be focusing more on that.
Do you plan to release an album?
Yes, I will be releasing new songs soon, hopefully, a full album will be ready before the end of the year.
When you’re not wowing the nation with your voice, what do you get up to in your spare time?
I am a make-up artist.
I do make-up.
My friend and I have a little business going on.
Do you consider yourself a celebrity now?
I am not yet there.
I will get there though!
Which local artist would you like to work with?
Sal Angel [former Ice Cold Mob member].
I think he is really dope so I would love to work with him.
TGIF, where will you be spending your Friday?
I will be out celebrating with friends, either over a braai or at a restaurant.