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We Talk to PJ Pretorius

“My Music must inspire, motivate and move people”.

by Louw Mulder

After previously failing to even get past the first stages of Idols SA, and having been kicked out of Boot Camp in X-Factor, this 26-year old Worship Leader from Secunda decided to enter The Voice South Africa. It must have been third time lucky, as PJ Pretorius finished 6th in the second season of this competition. After the results were announced live on M-Net, we met up with PJ for a little chat…

“I knew this whole week I am going home, I just knew”, PJ tells with the humble and grateful spirit, as South Africans have gotten to know him. Nevertheless, to fall out two weeks before the season finale, is a good run. For PJ, his journey on The Voice SA was a learning school: “Now my career gets a two week head start over the remaining contestants”, he said laughing.

It is difficult to determine what the South African public wants, when making up their minds on who to vote for in a competition like this. PJ thinks that it might be that the viewers, who are mostly younger and older people, prefers the powerhouses like Josh and Craig, and the popularity of Fatman. But PJ approached this competition with a plan to get his votes, based only on who he truly is, and not someone he created that would convince the public to vote for him. Quickly, he added: “I am not saying any of the contestants are doing that…”

During his introductory performance at the blind auditions, PJ performed Coldplay’s Yellow. All the coaches except Bobby, turned for him, but in the end, it was Karen whom he had selected as his coach. This was followed by PJ coming out victorious over 24-year old Chico Muya with the song Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen. It was after PJ eliminated Emma Ellis in the knock-out round with Pink’s Perfect, that he entered the Live Shows. From there, he performed Shania Twain’s You’re Still The One during the Top 16 show, Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition in the Top 8 show, and Imagine by John Lennon, in the Top 7 round. It was however the latter’s performance where he fell short with the votes, and ended empty handed during the Top 6 show, bowing out with Geronimo, by Sheppard.

“During my entire tenure on the show, I only did two up-beat songs, and even though I mostly made it through on ballads, it was Imagine I got judged on, that got me voted out”, he admitted. “You are only as good as your last performance”. PJ reckons his version of Imagine wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and he was up against Purple Rain sung by Craig Lucas, and Groen Trui from teammate Samantha Leonard, which made that particular night, a very huge night. “When I heard it is Samantha and I in the bottom two, I just knew it was me going home, because I believe the majority of the voters are Afrikaans speaking, and they loved it.”

But whereto from here for PJ Pretorius after The Voice? PJ is serious about a career in music, and has already proven this by resigning from his fulltime employment. He then boldly sums up his plans: “I grew up in the Church. I love God, I love people. As long as I can move, influence and motivate people, I will do it”. My respect for PJ Pretorius grew, as he carries on explaining his well thought through plans for the future.

PJ is not the type of artist who will rock out a bar and go crazy. He sees himself as an artist in a theatre, people around dining tables, with a classical and lounge-like vibe. He compares his style to that of Coldplay, James Bay and James Arthur.

“I am a gentle soul. I love music that has an impact. I have to show my emotions. It is important for me to sing a song I can connect to. People notice when you lie in a song, and for me it will be a privilege to tell stories through my music, out of which people can get some meaning”, he explains deeply: “If I get an opportunity to record a Praise and Worship CD, I might, but I will write music to inspire people, which will reveal God to them without them even knowing it.”

His advice to singers who want to pursue the music industry, is to just be themselves. “The only way to realise a dream, is to go for it and live it. Nothing will happen if you only keep on dreaming”. Through this philosophy, PJ Pretorius overcame a lot of fears, with one fear being himself. “I have learnt so much about myself, and realised my journey only starts now.”

South Africa may have voted PJ out of the competition based on his rendition of Imagine, but for me, it was one of my favourites throughout the whole competition thus far. Watch that performance below:


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