By Bongani Ndlovu
Former Zimbabwe Cricket speedster, Henry Olonga, bowled over the judges and audience during The Voice Australia Blind Auditions this past week.
The judges, American R‘n’B superstar Kelly Rowland (former Destiny’s Child singer), Boy George (renowned English songwriter and musician) and Delta Goodrem (Australian singer), known as coaches in the talent show, all turned their chairs while Olonga was singing as a sign of approval.
Only one coach, Guy Sebastian (the Australia Idols inaugural winner) did not turn and that later came back to bite him.
Olonga, a former Plumtree High pupil who retired from cricket 15 years ago, rose to fame as a musician after he released a soulful track Our Zimbabwe that became very popular.
At The Voice Australia auditions, he sang a rendition of This is the Moment by Robert Cuccioli.
The impressed coaches asked Olonga to tell them about his singing and he pleasantly chronicled his journey.
“Singing is what I used to do in high school. I started off in the musicals there and eventually, cricket took me away from music. I, however, kept on singing along the way.
“After retiring from cricket about 15 years ago, I decided to take up music again,” said Olonga while Boy George interjected saying it was a good decision.
Boy George said he was impressed by Olonga’s singing.
“We hear a lot of people singing opera on the show. You felt comfortable and all knowing . . . why were you were playing cricket?” quizzed Boy George.
Sebastian asked Olonga if, during his cricket playing days for the Zimbabwe national team, he sang for his teammates. Olonga said he did, describing the experience as cheesy.
Goodrem said she loved the way he sang the song.
“I love that song so much! This is the moment and it’s about living in the moment. You were so present when you were singing it. It felt incredibly in command and controlled.
“It was very special and I’d love to be your coach to be able to choose the right songs that will make you that (in control) every time you step on stage,” said Goodrem.
When it was time to choose which coach Olonga would prefer, he chose Kelly Rowland, but said his first pick was going to be Guy Sebastian because of his wife.
“If Guy had turned, I’d have chosen him because my wife walked down the aisle to Angels Brought me here (the lead single off Guy’s debut 2003 album – Just as I am).
“But, I’ve been listening to Destiny’s Child since I was a little boy so I’m going to choose Kelly,” said Olonga much to the shock and later on, elation of Kelly Rowland and the crowd.
After the auditions backstage, Kelly Rowland thanked Olonga for choosing her.
Olonga impressing the world follows in the footsteps of Donel Mangena, who has Zimbabwean roots, last year.
Donel went as far as the finals of the UK version of the talent competition but narrowly lost to fellow Brit, Ruti Olajugbagbe. The Chronicle