Local lass will be singing for her life on ‘Idols’

IDOLS fans in Pietermaritzburg are being urged to get behind 17-year-old Shekhinah Donnell. Although she now lives in Glenwood, Durban, the teenager has strong ties with the city. She was born in Edendale Hospital and adopted by Phillip Donnell when she was just a month old.

For six years she called Maritzburg home, attended St Nicholas School, and still regularly visits her grandparents, Jack and Myrtle, and her uncle John, who live in the city.

Shekhinah — who made it into the top 18, a year after she struggled to cope with the pressure of theatre week 2011 — will be singing for her life at 5.30 pm tomorrow, along with the eight other female finalists.

Phillip Donnell told Weekend Witness his daughter and her family were hoping that everyone in the city gets behind her and votes. “At the end of the day, you can be the best singer in the world, but if you don’t get votes you won’t be able to stay in the competition.

“She has grown in leaps and bounds in the last year,” he said. “She goes to vocal training once a week. Even if she doesn’t win Idols, singing and performing is what she wants to get into. It’s what is in her heart.”

And while she’s away in Johannesburg, the teenager, a matric pupil at Queensburgh High School, is not being allowed to forget about her studies. “The longer she stays in the competition, the more likely it will be that she misses things like trial exams, so her teachers have really been supportive and are helping her to keep up with her schoolwork,” Donnell said. He and his mother, Myrtle, will be in Johannesburg for the first live show on July 29, during which the Idols contestants will discover who will be going home.

Like Shekhinah, 25-year-old gospel singer Khaya Mthethwa, of Umlazi, is hoping that he’ll get the support of the voting public to stay. The nine male contestants will be performing for the public vote tonight at 5.30 pm. Idols fans can cast their votes for the guys from 5.30 pm tonight until 5.30 pm tomorrow, with voting for the girls running from 5.30 pm tomorrow until 5.30 pm on Monday.

• Cast votes via the SMS number 37400, Mxit or the official Idols website. Votes are free online, but SMS votes cost R1,50 per SMS (VAS rates apply) and 20 moola on Mxit (20 cents).

• Idols is screened on M-Net, M-Net HD and Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 107).

• arts@witness.co.za