Final-year medical student and one-fifth of a cappella group AnecNote, Morné Kahts can now add winner of South Africa’s Got Talent to his list of varied achievements. All University of Cape Town graduates, the group beat stiff competition to take home the coveted R500 000 prize.
The group's name is a play on the word "anecdote". Before their big win, they performed around Cape Town and told their musical “stories” on their YouTube channel.
“We take popular tunes, almost all local music, shorten them and use couch videos to promote a cappella music in South Africa,” says Kahts.
In early October their goal of exposing contemporary a cappella music to a wider audience went from their couch to more than two-million South African living rooms and hearts. An electric performance of South African artist Nathi’s Nomvula earned them a golden buzzer from judge DJ Fresh, fast-tracking them to the semi-finals.
Kahts's quirky isiXhosa monologue in the song was a big hit. For this, he has his friend Palesa Motjuwadi to thank – and his medical studies, which he would not have started had he not temporarily lost interest in music.
While pursuing a four-year music degree Kahts settled into teaching and performing, only to gradually lose enthusiasm for what was once his dream career.
“I got a feel for doing it [music] because I had to do it, as a source of income. I soon realised it was not the same as doing it because I wanted to do it,” he says.
In his third year, he secretly wrote the National Benchmark Tests and was accepted into medical school. Once he changed direction, rather than falling by the wayside, music became an enjoyable pastime again.
“I’ve found through studying medicine that I appreciate [music] more because I just don’t have enough time for it, which makes me appreciate the time that I do have,” he adds.
Kahts has been dividing that precious time between his medical studies, an honours in music and performing to partially finance his studies. He begins his internship at Khayelitsha Hospital next year and, although uncertain where this balancing act will take him next, is determined to continue pursuing his passion, one note and one story at a time.
As for AnecNote, they have their sights fixed firmly on a bright future. Speaking about their recent win, they said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support and appreciation we received – we weren't expecting to win SA's Got Talent. We entered the competition hoping to reach out to a wider South African audience and are ecstatic that our journey through the competition has allowed for this.
"Our plans for next year include recording a full-length album of original music, as well as setting up an a cappella festival. We're all very excited!”
The winning performance: AnecNote singing in the final of South Africa’s Got Talent