“I was raised not to be deterred by negativity and that kind of upbringing helped me to handle scathing criticism during the ‘My Star’ competition. “ Probably the best voice the competition has ever had, Sharon, the My Star 2012 winner, poured her heart out to KGOMOTSO TSHWENYEGO about her journey in the competition.
OUT TO MAKE A NAME IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
What genre should we expect from your album?
Jazz and Soul. That is where my strength is. I am a very natural person and I want to be me. African jazz is nice and beautiful music. I feel much comfortable doing it. I will also sing in my mother tongue, Kalanga.
The trend with the past winners has been one album and they disappear, are we going to lose you as well?
My second album will come after I complete my studies. I don’t think it can be easy for one to record while studying.
Who was your biggest threat?
One, she had a really good voice and could reach very high notes which I couldnt. I was happy when she left because it created more chances of me winning the competition. Other contestants were good in terms of stage and dancing. I cannot dance but I believe I sang better than them.
Why did you enter the competition?
I wanted to change my life, I wanted to showcase my talent and show that indeed we do have people that can sing in Botswana. Although there are some Batswana who still think Botswana is lagging behind in terms of talent, I wanted to prove them wrong. I also wanted exposure in case I didn’t win. I am a living testimony that Botswana does have talent.
What was the harshest comment you got from the judges and who was it from?
In the third week of the competition, I sang Madonna’s “Holiday”, I forgot the lyrics but then my mistake was I laughed. After I finished singing, one of the judges said “Sharon you are such an embarrassment, you have a great voice and you come on stage unprepared and you think its funny”. That comment really hit me hard.
How did it make you feel?
I knew she meant well. She didn’t want to demean me but to help me grow better because she could see my potential and talent. From then on, I worked hard and I never wanted to make a mistake. Each time I prepared for my next performance, I worked much harder than I did the last. I never made a mistake again.
Did you think it was going to be easy since you had been on stage before?
No, I didn’t think so but I never thought it would be that difficult either. When you watch the show on TV or watch it live, it seems it is just a matter of getting on stage and singing a song that you know and have always sang, but it is different. It wasn’t the first time I auditioned for My Star, in 2008 I didn’t make it into the top 20. I worked on what the Judges told me then and I made it in 2012.
What are you going to do with your winnings?
I will decide on my return from UK. I want to record my album first and it is then that I will decide what I want to do with it. I may buy a car though.
Who is the one My Star winner you would wish to do a collaboration with?
It would be Kitso. Apart from the fact that we are friends, our voices also work well together. We also have same taste in music. If I were to pick from those who didn’t win, I would pick Dudu, One, Peach and Tebogo. They have quality voices and they are talented in their own way and our voices can complement each other.
Are your tatoos real? Why did you do them?
They are real. I have two of them, one on the right arm and another on my right breast. I was still young and I wanted to check how brave I am and I think I am brave. I regret having them and wish I could undo but I have come to accept them.
Has My Star changed you?
Yes, my personality. Before my star I would talk anyhow I wished with anyone irregardless of who they are. We were taught how to behave and conduct ourselves in public right from the beginning of the competition to life after.
Now that you are a celebrity, are you going to continue interacting with ordinary people?
Those ordinary people made me who I am by believing in the ordinary me and making me a winner. I haven’t changed, I am still your ordinary girl from Masunga. I make time for people when they stop to talk to me. Most of them want to congratulate and share my joy with me.
Some people allege you are on drugs? Are you?
Well they are wrong. I am not on drugs and I will never be on drugs and I was never on drugs and I don’t wish to be on drugs.
How did u get the nickname Little Brenda?
(Hahaha) While singing with Ndingo Johwa I used to sing Brenda Fassie’s song Vulindlela in Kalanga. I performed it almost everywhere I went and in some cases people would ask me to peform it.
What is the one thing you’re grateful for from My Star?
I learnt a lot about music and that in order to be in the music industry you have to be strong no matter how hard it gets. I have learnt to take criticism and make it to better myself. There are certain things I didn’t know about music which I now know. I learnt perserverance. Even when people had their own opinions about me, some thinking I didn’t deserve to be in the competition, I managed to hold my head high and kept working hard. I also learnt that sometimes you have to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.
How many times were you saved?
I was in the bottom five times in a row and had to battle to fight for my stay in the competition. And all these five times, the judges saved me. I tried enough but I just didn’t get enough votes to keep me in so I had to sing to save myself.
In this competition one needs to really be strong and focused. The comments can sometimes be conflicting and it hurts. There came a point where I was told I was playing. All I know is I was doing my best and it hurt me a lot to be told so. The journey was emotionally costing but I managed to hold it together till the end. I almost gave up. I even lost weight.
Talking of weight, are we likely to see a trimmed down Sharon?
I am a big girl and I feel good about myself and I am not under any pressure to trim down. If it happens that I lose some weight, it will be because of too much work not because of diet pills or starving myself. I love who I am and this is who I am and I will remain like this.
What were you doing before My Star?
I was backing vocalist for Ndingo Johwa in 2008 and in 2010 I backed Banjo Mosele till today.
A lot of aspiring contestants are afraid of the judges, advise them
First I would like to urge parents not to stop children when they want to pursue their passion and talent. You never know how far music can take your child. And to those who want to enter the competition, Judges are there to mould and guide us. They are professionals and they know what they are doing and if you think you know better than them, it wont take you anywhere. Bad attitude will not help either. Take every criticism positively. I realized that criticism no matter how hard can make you a better person. Too much pride will not determine your talent. When you’re told something, and you know its right but want to give an attitude to make yourself look better, it will not take you anywhere. Humility all the way, that my advise!
Names: Sharon Sibonge
DoB: 22 July, 1991
Home Village: Masunga
Favorite car: Mazda 3
Favorite food: Phaleche and Delele
Role model: My grandmother, Chibongwa Agnes Sibonge
Parents: Christinah Sibonge
Book reading: The Clon and I by Daniel Steel