Siyabonga Maqungo Tenor, South Africa «Though I'm an opera singer, I'm also madly in love with hip hop music.» What inspired you to become a singer? Singing has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember. Thanks to my late mother, I grew up in a church where it all began – singing in a Sunday school choir. It never dawned on me that one day I could sing professionally until a later stage in my life when I realized it was something which gave me satisfaction, joy and happiness, but most of all it was something of value and purpose. What inspired me the most, was the power of music that elevates the human soul and spirit to a place where no one can explain, but only feel. What’s your dream role and why? Nemorino in L'elisir Damore by G. Donizetti. More than the beauty of the music which is well written for the voice, and the comic side of the play, the storyline always intrigued me. To see Nemorino's journey in pursuit of his love for Adina and not giving up at any cost, not even by the differences in social status. Just the persistence he has as a character made me fall in love with the role. Who is your favourite singer and why? Difficult to only choose one as I have many favourite singers in different art forms. Juan Diego Florez for his unbelievable singing and sense of musicality and interpretation. Sir Bryn Terfel and Ian Bestride for their tremendous sensitivity and the delicacy they have when telling a story through song. I admire the musicality and nuances they create through their love of text. What do you hope to achieve by participating in The Queen Sonja International Music Competition? I am hoping to grow as a young singer. I hope it will be a place where I can learn, whether about singing or the show business, and be able to build a network and gain some new contacts. I hope to interact with other singers from all around the world and perhaps learn more about different cultures. To win a prize in any category would be a cherry on top of the cake, but I think in a way we have all won by being invited to this prestigious competition. Tell us something surprising or unexpected about yourself! I'm quite an open book but what seems to surprise a lot of people after meeting me, is that though I'm an opera singer, I'm also madly in love with hip hop music.