Handsome, brains and a voice to give you goosebumps. This scintillating up and coming artist , known as Selim Kagee is the next big thing in classical music (with a slight sexy twist). When I think of classical artists, I tend towards thinking about Josh Groben or Andre Bocelli. Now I will think Selim Kagee. Born and bred in Cape Town, this 34 year old classical singer has managed to sign with EMI records and released his Debut album “Cry for Love” in a short space of time.
When I saw that he was performing at the Artscape Theatre ( as part of the Suidoosterfees), I decided to attend the show to witness this great voice. It was very strange to attend a show that started at 9pm but alas, it had to be done. Sitting in the audience, I remember thinking that it was a great turnout considering he was a local artist. He was supported by an entire orchestra (The Hugo Lambrecht Orchestra) including famous Spanish guitarist Bienyameen Camroodien) and solo violist player 19-year old violin virtuoso Donne de Koch.
The show commenced and Selim sang in English as well as Italian. One would swear he was Italian , that’s how flawless he sounded. Songs included , “Love Me Tender”, “Besame Mucho”, “Can’t Help Falling Inlove” ,“O Sole Mio” and “Surrender”. Not forgetting his debut song “ Cry for Love” which was sung at the end of the show. The music was captivating and gave me chills. Such a beautiful and powerful voice that captivated the audiences ears and hearts.
(Check out his video here )
The one thing (besides his amazing voice), was his ability to entertain the audience between songs by being humorous and throwing in a joke or two, which I found quite refreshing between very serious content.
After the show, I decided to catch up with the young star. He happily agreed to the interview and so the journey into his life begins….
Me: I managed to watch your show at the Artscape on Saturday and I must say it was fantastic. I was blown away by your singing ability. When did you realise that you could sing?
Selim- After I attended a lecture on singing when I was 20, this woman said anyone can sing if you learn a technique. Which I then did, and after over a decade of training, my voice grew strong and controlled.
You mentioned that you used to practice in a little studio at your parents home. How was the transition between singing alone at your parent’s home to singing to an audience?
I started acting in plays and progressed to musical theatre, and eventually the roles got bigger and bigger, and my confidence grew. But performing ones own solo show and not hiding behind a character in a play was a huge step. But I think I’ve found my style of performance after years of experimentation and stage experience and sticking to ones strengths as a performer and bringing out your authentic self to an audience by telling real life stories. This is what I found helps me connect with an audience.
If you weren’t a performing artist, what other career would you have chosen and why?
-I studied graphic design formally and own a graphic design business. I’ve always been artistically inclined and I love the creative process.
All artists have a little ritual before they perform. Do you have anything you do before a show?
– I do vocal warm up exercises, and prepare the order of my set list and the links that I’m going to say, and lock my mind into them the night before and during the day. Also getting into some sort of costume helps with the transformation. I don’t like to do small talk before a show, I find it distracts my mind. I purposefully do not carry any lucky charms so that I don’t become reliant on them should they not be there. I also try not to be too physically polished as I find that gives me a precious energy that everything must be perfect. So I sometimes may not bath on the day, not shave, or I may wear an old piece of clothing, and never tie my top button of my shirt. All these things relax me more.
Could you explain your journey from being a young man singing at your parent’s home to an EMI signed artist? Who made it possible? How did it happen?
– It took 15 years. But began with a vision of performing to large audiences in my own show to huge audiences.. I had no idea how I would do it, because at the time I started singing, I was really a novice. But the vision grew stronger, and I struck to my strengths i.e. not singing pop, but classical music, even though I wanted to be a pop artist in the beginning. As my voice developed, so did my confidence and I got mini breaks throughout the years, such as landing a part in a musical, then another, then a bigger one. After doing many musicals, I wanted to carve out my own style and be a solo artist, have my own show and my own professional album. I recorded some demo’s in a church and only after another 4 years of not much growth, I got introduced to a producer who saw some potential in me and partnered with me to create a more professional demo. These demo recordings got in the hands of EMI through my producer, Clive Ridgway, and offered to record my debut album Cry For Love.
What has been your biggest achievement in the music industry thus far?
– My personal biggest achievements are the ones I’ve created for myself by firstly deciding what it is that I want and then pursuing them relentlessly, that is firstly learning to sing, secondly recording my professional album, and thirdly building my own solo concert with an orchestra.
Who/What inspired you to sing classical (pop) music?
-My vocal training is classical singing, I love it because it showcases the beauty of the human voice, which has a deep power to move people. It’s classic pop because the music Is presented in a pop/modern way and not in the traditional opera way.
Who/What inspired your debut album Cry For Love?
-I’m inspired to do something of great consequence, something outstanding, that makes its mark on people for the better. I was also inspired by other artists who have recorded their own beautiful music and have had flourishing careers, reaching large audiences.
You’ve been in some great musical productions such as The Sound Of Music, The Boyfriend, Annie Get Your Gun, to name but a few. Could you tell us if you had any embarrassing moments while performing? If so, what was it and how did you handle it?
-During one show we were using wireless microphones attached to our heads, and I went off stage to take a leak, but the sound engineers forgot to turn my mic off, so the entire audience heard me taking a leak!!!! Eeek!!! Could have been much worse!
During another show, I was singing with a backtrack, and all the power cut off, I just smiled and the audience started laughing!
You own your own graphic design business as well? How has this new found stardom impacted your business? How do you manage both?
– Fortunately I have a good team in my design business and I’m able to manage both.
What do you do in your free time?
-I play tennis, watch movies, eat out, read inspiring books, and love walking.
When was the moment you realised that you a local celebrity?
– Every time someone recognises me, is that moment!
Now one for all the ladies out there: is there a special lady in your life?
-Yes I’ve recently gotten married to a beautiful lady 😉
What is the next big song you working on and when will it be released?-
I’m currently working on some new material, but there are no set dates for release yet.
When is the next big show for all the fans out there?
-We are working on some very exciting plans for shows, but Cannot release any details at this stage.
If someone had to describe you in one word what would it be?
If you could have the last meal of your entire life, what would it be?
– ummm chicken korma!
How would you describe your fashion style?
Your music icon?
Whats playing on your ipod / phone right now?
-Tony Bennet’s Duets
Superman or batman?
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take 5 things, what would they be?
-Water, food, cell phone, a good book and my laptop!
If you could travel to one destination in the world, where would you go?
If you could have dinner with 5 famous people (dead or alive), who would be invited to your dinner table?
-Michael Jackson, Madiba, David Foster, Steve Jobs, Leonardo Da Vinci
So no deets on his next performance. But I happened to come across a Valentines Day show ( Friday 14th Feb 2014) taking place at the Castle where Selim will be performing. Get your tickets if you don’t have anything planned as yet. Love under the stars…..
XOXO – Jihan
Things to know:
A mix of classics and pop from renowned singers Colin Lee, Selim Kagee and Nash Reed. The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, which celebrates its 100th birthday this month, is conducted by Brandon Phillips.
Venue: Castle of Good Hope, Darling St, Cape Town
Cost: R 360 – R 480, double tickets R 900, VIP @ R 1800
Tel: 021 433 1699 Email: email@example.com