Voices of Namibia take silver

10 August 2012
Author   Faith Kavamba

SOME people say music brings joy to the heart and others say you can see the world through music.
Both these sayings appear true for 23-year-old Francois David McNab who just returned from a tour of the United States as part of the Voices of Namibia who participated in the World Choir Games. The tour has transformed him into a joyful bundle.
The choir games attracted hundreds of choirs from around the world to Cincinnati in the US for about three weeks of competition to show who the most melodious voices are.

Voices of Namibia, one of the country’s leading choirs, were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to attend this prestigious international event where they made the nation proud.
The choir, which consists of 45 members, could only afford sending a 32-member team, unlike well-to-do countries such as South Africa that sent a whopping 130 people.
Despite their limited numbers, Voices of Namibia managed to sing their way to glory and bring pride to the nation by winning two silver medals at the contest.
McNab beams with pride as he recounts his journey with the choir and the experiences at the World Choir Games.
Apart from Cincinnati where the games were held, the choir also visited New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Michigan and Philadelphia.
During the visits the choir had the opportunity to perform for the public and also performed in some churches.
The visits also allowed the members of the choir to see the breathtaking scenic infrastructure towering around them.
Although the future looks bright for the youthful McNab, his path has not always been a bed of roses.
He had to deal with the trauma of growing up without his mother who walked out on both him and his brother when he was a toddler.
Left in the care of their father, McNab and his brother moved from town to town wherever their father managed to find a better job.
After moving from Tsumeb, they lived in Arandis and Swakopmund before finally moving to Windhoek where he graduated from high school. Although mother and son have since reconciled, the experience of being abandoned and having to grow up without a mother’s love had a negative impact on him.
The absence of a mother figure in his life left him vulnerable to peer pressure. In junior high school, he became involved with the wrong crowd, which led him to drinking and smoking.
“I almost lost my voice,” he says, admitting that it was a bad time in his life but he has since grown out of it and that he is now devoted to his three-year-old son and his girlfriend.
The talented McNab auditioned for the Voices of Namibia choir last year, and earned himself the place as first tenor in the choir ahead of hundreds of other hopefuls who also auditioned.
The choir is led by Rayno Burger, one of the founders of the popular Mascato Youth Choir based in his home town of Walvis Bay.
Burger who became a member of Voices of Namibia in 2010 showed promise and dedication and that led the choir to appoint him assistant conductor the same year.
Burger is also the conductor for the Windhoek Mannerchor choir.
“I’ve always admired the conductor, Rayno Burger. We were in the same church so I knew him by reputation,” he said adding that Burger is a big brother figure and always pushes them to reach greater heights of achievement. “I don’t know where I would be without him.”
It is because of Burger that they managed to win the two silver medals.
In the true spirit of Ubuntu (unity), all 632 choirs assembled in Washington DC during the first week for training workshops, where they all sang together and shared songs.
“The friendliness in the [United] States is overwhelming. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I learnt to have a great deal of respect for the people,” McNab says.
Unable to contain his excitement, he says he can’t wait for the next choir games because he had such an unforgettable experience. The next choir games will be held in Riga, the capital city of Latvia in the year 2014.
Until then he plans on releasing his first album, but he wants to focus on music as a hobby because he wants to pursue his second dream of becoming a professional chef.
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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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