Spectacular voices

From the world’s largest variety show to the Voice – three former public school musicians are making the most of their moment in the spotlight.

23 August 2021
Three young men singing
Image: The next stage: Zeke, Arlo and Byron pictured while performing at the Schools Spectacular.

Three former stars of the Schools Spectacular are showcasing their talents to Australia after winning their way on to The Voice.

Former Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (NHSPA) student Arlo Sim; Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School’s Byron Garn and Zeke Cameron, formerly from Ulladulla High School, have all been selected to go through to the next round of the talent show.

Schools Spectacular Creative Director Sonja Sjolander said the success of the three performers was a testament to the experience they had gained at the world’s largest variety show.

“It gives them that edge and a polish to their performance because they have experienced performing in a high-pressure environment,” Ms Sjolander said.

“Leading a cast of 5,000 gives them the skills and confidence to back themselves and overcome their nerves to sing from the heart.”

She said the students were also graduates of multiple Arts Unit programs such as the NSW Public School Singers ensemble and large-scale events such as Southern Stars.

Arlo, who was a Schools Spectacular artist from 2017-2019 and involved in the choir for many years prior, caused a sensation last night with judge Jess Mauboy hailing him as “the best vocalist” on show, while fellow judge Keith Urban said Arlo “really spoke to me”.

“I can’t sit down, you’re so bloody good,” he said to Arlo, who selected him as his coach for the next rounds.

Newtown principal Sharon Roberts said the school was right behind Arlo and excited to see how far he would go in the competition.

NHSPA head of music Chris Miller said Arlo had gained entry to the school through the music auditions and “really exemplifies what Newtown High School of the Performing Arts is about”.

“Arlo immersed himself in music all through his time at NHSPA, looking for any opportunity to develop and display his musical abilities. Whether this was playing trumpet in large ensembles, singing in choirs, leading bands as a singer at Earthfest or performing in South Pacific,” he said.

“In 2016, while studying Year 9 Song Writing, Arlo prepared one of his many original songs for a 'surprise' masterclass, unaware that the masterclass was with Justin Timberlake.

“With a student and musician like Arlo Sim, you are never concerned how they will go in the Music Industry as they will not only take opportunities that are out there, but will likely forge new ones.”

Gamble rewarded

Zeke Cameron, 19, auditioned for the popular singing competition, singing Let Me Love You by one of the judge’s Rita Ora. His gamble paid off with Ora beating the other judges to have him on her team.

Zeke, who was a mainstay with Southern Stars for four years was also a featured artist in the Schools Spectacular in 2018.

Ulladulla High School principal Denise Lofts said the school and community was very excited for the 19-year-old, who graduated last year.

Ms Lofts said he was an “exceptional young person” and since Year 8 played the Last Post on trumpet for Anzac Day ceremonies.

“Zeke was a member of the Illawarra South East Ensemble, supported by the Arts Unit and he travelled with the Ensemble as part of that group,” she said.

“His parents were often amazed by the opportunities that existed and were always very supportive.”

Byron Garn started his musical journey at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School before taking up a plumbing apprenticeship after Year 10.

The Schools Spectacular 2018 singer was snatched up by coach Guy Sebastian after singing Before You Go by Lewis Capaldi.

Principal Tania Irons said Byron was an excellent music student at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School and always willing to help younger students.

"Byron has always had an incredibly expressive voice and a wonderful demeanour to accompany it," Ms Irons said.

"We are not only pleased he is still singing, but happy to know that so many more people get to hear his talents as well as be introduced to such a wonderful young man.

"We are very proud of his success so far and will continue to cheer from our loungerooms to support his journey on The Voice."


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