Movie Review: Boy Choir

Starring: Kathy Bates, Josh Lucus, Eddie Izzard, Dustin Hoffman, Debra Winger, Garret Wareing and Kevin McHale

Director: Francois Girard

Producers: Judy Cairo, Carol Baum, Jane Golding

Vuvu rating- 6/10

Stet (Garret Wareing) an eleven-year-old boy lives with his single-parent mom who is battling with alcoholism. After she passes away, Stet’s father is forced to take responsibility for him. He is enrolled into an all-boy’s school which specialises in singing and is home to the National Boys’ Choir.

Although Stet has an amazing voice he struggles to adapt to the school at first. The fact that he cannot read music makes life hard for him. In his first block of school he is unable to make it into the touring choir which has the school’s best singers in the National Boys’ choir going to Japan.

While the choir is in Japan, Stet works hard to improve his vocals. This is with the help of his piano teacher Wooly (Kevin McHale), who realises that Stet has an ability to learn quickly and a natural flare for music. He manages to get into the choir just in time for the next tour which sparks jealousy amongst the other boys. A rivalry starts between Devon (Joe West) who is usually the lead singer, and Stet. At the end of the day it is up to the strict choirmaster Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman) to decide who will be good enough to lead the choir in New York where they will be having their biggest concert.


This is the perfect movie for those who like happy endings. BoyChoir is the kind of story that will have you teary eyed because it shows how talent, hard-work and perseverance is all that is needed to succeed. It highlights the fact that there is hope for those who come from nothing.

This movie tends to be a bit predictable at times as it follows the kind of “Cinderella story” narrative. I believe it is more suitable for teenagers but is not stimulating enough for the older viewers.

BoyChoir could be more enjoyable for choral music fans as the boys have very good voices. The boys singing in their soprano voices are pleasant on the ear.

What can be learnt from the movie is the idea of living in the moment. After his voice breaks, Stet is confused about why his done all these singing lessons but ends up ‘losing his voice’. His teacher Wooly responds: “The lessons themselves are the point”

Time for book fairs to “break the class divide”

The evening came alive with song and music when renowned South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe took to the stage at the annual Jozi Book Fair, while Wits vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib called for more accessible book fairs.  

LETS READ: Gcina Mhlope  poses with VC Adam Habib and Khanya College organizers at the Jozi Book Fair. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

LET’S READ: From left, Dr Maria van Driel, one of the organisers, Gcina Mhlope, Prof Adam Habib and a guest at the Jozi Book Fair in Braamfontein on Thursday evening.                                                                                 Photo: Katleho Sekhotho


Wits University’s vice chancellor has said that book fairs need to “break the class divide.” Speaking at the 7th annual Jozi Book Fair in Braamfontein on Thursday night, an event hosted in partnership with Wits University and Khanya College, Habib spoke of the need to make book fairs more accessible.

Reflecting on the launch of one of his books two years ago at the Franschhoek Literature Festival, Habib said he realised that there were only about six black people in the audience out of the thousands present.

Habib said book fairs are an opportunity for the upper middle class to hang around and share interesting ideas, but made the call for a change, and said that the university’s partnership with Khanya College is part of this.

“We are starting this particular relationship with Khanya [College]… because it’s about deepening access to education, and that is something we are particularly increasingly getting committed to.”

Celebrated writer and poet Gcina Mhlophe was also present and captivated the audience with her signature mix of music and poetry, (click to listen).


Focusing on young people and reading, Mhlope spoke of what led her to write children’s books, “I started writing for children because I got jealous, when I got to those countries where they sell children’s books only – they dress them up so well – I wanted to make a contribution!” (click to listen).




Mandela memorial: We were not dishonouring him, we were honouring him

HONOUR HIM WITH A SONG: Young people refused to stop singing at Nelson Mandela's memorial service because they wanted to honour Mandela.

HONOUR HIM WITH A SONG: Young people refused to stop singing at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service because they wanted to honour Mandela.

Singing throughout the entire Nelson Mandela memorial service, even during the speeches of prominent guest speakers, was a way of of showing respect to and honouring Mandela.

“We wanted to express ourselves in a respectful way. That’s how it is here in South Africa,”  said Siyabulela Phila who was one of the lead singers. Phila said that Mandela was a comrade and whenever it was a comrade’s memorial service, “something like this happened”.

Dorah Nhlapo who was also among the singers said, “Mandela comes from mzabalazo [the struggle]. It was our way of showing him respect.”

Nhlapo said their singing was not an indication of their dissatisfaction with anyone, “as long as it is Nelson Mandela’s memorial, we will keep our dissatisfaction to ourselves.”

Pila said what they didn’t like was “the other heads of states were talking Chinese and we could not hear them. The sound was very poor. We could hear the president talking but we could not hear the translator.”

Stephanie Nunes who was at the memorial said the singing did not bother her, “I’m used to it. It’s my country.”

According to Phila, whenever the sound quality was bad or and “the thing of not always showing who is talking” they sang even more. He said they were unable to hear most of the speakers properly, so they sang: “We only heard Barack Obama, of which it was a great speech.”

Cyril Ramaphosa attempted to get the enthusiastic singers to quieter down but had very little success. There were even media reports  saying policemen had been called to bring order to the situation. In the end it was Desmond Tutu who managed to get the relentless singers to keep quiet: “I want to remind you that we got to be at this point because we were disciplined. Now I want to show the world, which has come out here to celebrate the life of an extraordinary icon, we want to say thank you to that world but you must show that world that we are disciplined. So I want to hear a pin drop.”