Siphiwo Ntshebe

South African opera tenor Siphiwo Ntshebe who was referred to as the ‘black Pavarotti’ has died at the age of 34 from meningitis weeks before he was due to sing at South Africa’s World Cup opening ceremony.

Siphiwo Ntshebe was born in 1974 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and had an ear for classical music from a very young age. He would sing on his father’s knee to guests who visited their home and was greatly influenced by his father who was reverend at the church in the Eastern Cape.

Siphiwo performed in small operas and musical plays written by his father for the local church, but it was not until he was 16 when his talents was truly put on show, performing an Italian opera with an orchestra in Port Elizabeth. It was here where he was offered a scholarship at the University in Cape Town and another to study in Brisbane, Australia in the Young Artists Programme.

In 2004 Siphiwo was awarded a scholarship on the Postgraduate course to study at The Royal College of Music in London and completed his studies at the RCM in 2007.

He was in rehearsals for the World Cup ceremony where he was due to sing his song Hope which former South African President Nelson Mandela had requested for him to perform on June 11, but contracted meningitis last week. He died on Tuesday.

Hopefully, at the opening ceremony on June 11 he will be remembered and his music shared with the world.

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