Marist Music Teacher Scores Big
For Leah Adams, a music teacher at St Joseph’s Marist College in Cape Town, 2017 will be a year to remember: for being a winner of the SA’s Got Talent contest.
Ms Adams is a member of AnecNote, the acappella group from Cape Town which captured the nation’s hearts as it won the highly contested finale of SA’s Got Talent (or SAGT), the hugely popular South African version of the international franchise, which broadcasts on e.tv.
“The support St Joseph’s showed me, and continues to show me, has been absolutely amazing,” said Ms Adams, who joined the school’s staff in 2014 as a part-time vocal teacher.
She recalls being apprehensive at first about accepting the job of overseeing the school’s choirs as well as giving vocal lessons, as she was at another school at the time and busy completing her postgraduate certificate in education. She wasn’t sure if she could cope with the workload, but somehow felt the need to take the leap.
Support From St Joseph’s Marist College
Church has also always been a huge part of Ms Adams life. After her confirmation she became a Sunday school teacher, igniting a passion for teaching at 16 already.
What she enjoys most about being a music teacher is that she gets to share her passion and to see students grow in confidence through music.
St Joseph’s backed Ms Adams from the beginning of her journey on SAGT.
“The college has been fantastic. I work alongside Alexis Petro, the head of music, and she has just been such a positive energy to work with, always encouraging and promoting me and the band,” Ms Adams told The Southern Cross.
“During the SAGT competition, I was able to get a substitute teacher to stand in for me, which the college agreed to, no objections,” Ms Adams said.
She said her love for music came from her parents. Although neither of them plays an instrument or has any sort of formal training, there was always music in her house varying from genre to genre.
“But my true appreciation for music came only when I went to high school and joined the music class. I was an extremely shy person, especially on stage, and I overcame that only recently, partially due to becoming a teacher,” Ms Adams said.
AnecNote: The Beginning
AnecNote was formed in 2014, and consists of six members: Ms Adams, Kevin Smuts, Amy Campbell, Daniel Mambassi, and Morné Kahps.
The three men in the group met in the UCT Chamber Choir years ago. They sang a lot of acappella music and together they felt there was a need to be a platform for more contemporary/pop acappella groups. They approached Ms Adams and asked her if she would like to audition.
“I thought it was a bit weird, but I decided to go because since graduating from UCT’s College of Music in 2013, I had missed singing in groups and really wanted to be part of one again,” Ms Adams said.
Once the group established a sound and felt confident enough to accept the challenge a competition brings, they entered SAGT.
“As a band, we love working towards our goals and this was definitely on our list,” said Ms Adams. “Through SAGT we were also able to reach a bigger audience.”
AnecNote received the second “Golden Buzzer” of Season 8 from radio personality and judge DJ Fresh. The Golden Buzzer qualifies a contestant to go straight to the semi-finals.
DJ Fresh couldn’t contain his excitement after the group sang their rendition of Nathi’s Afro-pop hit “Nomvula”.
“We never expected to receive the Golden Buzzer, nor win the semi-final — never mind winning the finale. The other acts were all so talented and everyone stood a good chance of winning the competition,” Ms Adams said.
“Throughout the competition we kept reminding ourselves how blessed we are to be able to do what we do and to also share it with the world. We just wanted to send out a good, positive message and get acappella in South Africa on the map,” she said.
Her own class voted!
The semi-final episode took place while Ms Adams’ Grade 10s and 11s were doing their final FET Music practical exam. During the practical, they took a break to vote for AnecNote.
“This was extremely heartwarming to hear. I always tell my seniors, “I might be a Bergvliet alumni [a state school in Cape Town’s southern suburbs], but Marist stole my heart. I am Marist,” she said.
Upon returning home from Johannesburg, where the competition took place, she was welcomed with hugs, class parties, and chocolates by excited learners who were over the moon for her and the group.
Asked what she enjoys most about being a music teacher, Ms Adams replied: “I get to share my dreams with the learners.”
She has a passion and wants to share it. “To say I’m passionate about music is an understatement. Getting to share my passion and journey with my learners is what drives me to get out of bed every morning and to be the best example I can be to their growing minds,” Ms Adams said.
“Being a teacher — and also this person who won a national competition — puts me in a position where learners can look up to me and see that anything is achievable. It’s always exciting to see how music can break down barriers and allow learners to be completely free,” Ms Adams said.