Kelebogile Boikanyo

It’s no coincidence that Kelebogile Boikanyo is also known as Pearl. Often used as a metaphor for something rare, admired and precious, “Pearl” is befitting of a sensational opera singer who, at 24, is a cultural gem. Setting local and international stages ablaze with her radiant performances and humble poise, Boikanyo is a soprano supernova who is on the threshold of a stellar career.

Pretoria-born Boikanyo never thought opera would be her destiny. Although she loved singing, if it hadn’t been for her high school principal recruiting extra voices for the school choir, her formidable talent would still be confined to the shower. Starting in 2006, Boikanyo won the national soloist competition at the Tirisano Schools Choral Eisteddfod for three consecutive years and was later awarded a scholarship to study for a BA in performing arts at Tshwane University of Technology.

While studying, she made her professional debut alongside tenor Johan Botha in Opera Extravaganza in 2007 and, since then, her rise has been meteoric. She dazzled as the High Priestess in Aïda, excelled as Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos in Belgium, and shone in Opera Africa’s La Bohème and Carmen, to name notable performances. Among many highlights, her international debut as Queen Silomo in the Zulu opera Princess Magogo stands out as an experience that ripped Boikanyo out of her comfort zone and reminded her to be African and always to be herself.

It is through opera that Boikanyo has found herself and, in so doing, the whole world has opened up to her. A firm believer in educating one’s talent, she feels that only though hard work, more hard work and humility will she achieve everything she is striving and singing for: to live, breathe and seize her dreams through her remarkable operatic talent.

— Lu Larche