By Fiona Wakelin
Cape Town born, Whitney April, is already making a name for herself in the TikTok metaverse where she’s garnered a million likes for her acapella renditions of songs such as “Part of Your World” from the Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid,” Hillsong Worship’s “Here I Am to Worship,” and Adele’s “Easy on Me.”
Now, Whitney is poised to expand her reach beyond the world of TikTokers as she prepares to release an awe-inspiring update of “The Prayer” with Rodrick Dixon of the Three Mo’ Tenors classical trio. She first heard the original 1998 David Foster-produced Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli version when she was a child, but really fell in love with the 2003 remake by gospel legends Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams. It’s fitting that Adams’ music director, Rodney East, was recruited to produce the charming new orchestration.
The TikTok star gave an outstanding performance of the South African national anthem at the Standard Bank Top Virtual Women Conference 2022. Top Women caught up with the star to find where it all began!
What have been your most memorable moments on stage?
I think the most memorable would be the very first time I was able to actually sing in front of a crowd of people in high school. I’m a very shy person who struggles with anxiety and breaking through that fear and singing through the nerves was very liberating and a proud moment for me.
When did you know you wanted to be a professional singer? What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where you are today?
The earliest memory I have is in Grade 2, the teacher asked us what we wanted to be one day and I said a singer, so the desire started quite young. The moment I knew for sure was in high school at 15 years old when I had my first vocal lesson. Singing professionally was always a dream & I was never sure if I would actually be able to do it, I was always told to get a job that is secure & where there are always vacancies. I still wanted to stay in the music field and play it “safe” with my career choice. I didn’t pass matric with the necessary requirements and life all in all didn’t go as planned. I was never brave enough to try and pursue music full-time either. I worked in retail & eventually ended up getting my degree in teaching, I taught Grade 1 learners for a year before getting the opportunity to actually pursue a music career.
You have recently signed an international record deal. Please tell us about it
In 2020 I started posting singing covers on TikTok and also joined an acapella group called vocal factory, with young people from around the world, we would just post videos for fun. In 2021 PJ Morton’s manager Wade Jordan, stumbled across one of the vocal factory’s videos and said that I stood out. He then came across my solo covers on Tiktok and approached me to potentially work together. After months of connecting via zoom and email, I was given the opportunity to sign with management. Such an exciting moment for me that I’m so grateful for.
How important is inspiring the youth of South Africa to you? Please give some examples.
It is extremely important to me to inspire the youth of South Africa. One of the main reasons that I wanted to do music is to inspire, I want young people to see that anything is possible. I think when we’re young we’re always asked what we plan to do for our futures and it feels like a huge pressure at a young age to just figure everything out. I want to inspire young people to go after their dreams and not to be influenced by the opinions of others and also not compare themselves to others, everyone is on their own timeline and their own journey. To let them know it’s okay not to have everything figured out, we learn as we go, not to be hard not ourselves, and to believe in ourselves. Coming from a shy, introverted girl who chose to play it safe and listen to outside voices, you can do anything when you work hard and follow your passion, it might not always be easy but you will be way happier doing something you love! `
What exciting plans do you have for 2023?
I am currently working on my very first EP which is set to be released in 2023. It will be my first ever body of work that I release and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
Do you have a message of inspiration for our readers?
There is a motto I live by and that is “Do it afraid” whatever you are holding back on doing because of doubt or fear, do it, and do it afraid! Don’t allow your fears to hold you back.