It had been 48 hours that would make any singer think, “Any minute now I’ll wake from this blissful, impossible dream.” First she shared a stage with world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli and two days later she performed to 700 million TV viewers worldwide at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Tears well up in Nianell’s eyes when she talks about singing the song The Prayer with the blind Italian singer at the Dome in North Riding, Joburg. “I pray that You will be our eyes and watch us on our way . . . I pray that we will find Your light and keep it in our hearts.”
“It was incredible. He’s very relaxed – you can hear it in his voice. The only time he appeared hesitant was when he had to walk somewhere. But that’s normal because he’s blind,” the 38-year-old singer tells us.
The news she’d been chosen to sing at the World Cup final at Soccer City in Soweto was as big a surprise. “The atmosphere was indescribable.”
Before walking onto the field to sing she and husband Andrew Thompson held hands and shouted with joy, savouring the experience. At home their nearly three-year-old triplets, Jade, Kaeley and Tayden, jumped with excitement and shouted “mommy, mommy” when they saw her on TV.
“The organisers asked me to write Afrikaans words and a melody for the first two lines of the song. It was a huge honour to be able to sing in my mother tongue in front of the world.”
“Here in the land of sunshine, people from around the world now stand together,” she sang. “That’s my wish for everyone in this country – that we could all stand together.”