A Voice Like No Other: This is Tapiwa

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A Voice Like No Other: This is Tapiwa


Tapiwa "Lilly" Musimbe laughing, getting ready for The Voice on Snapchat

Tapiwa "Lilly" Musimbe laughing, getting ready for The Voice on Snapchat

Tapiwa "Lilly" Musimbe laughing, getting ready for The Voice on Snapchat

Whitney Patterson, Associate Editor

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Perhaps you have stumbled upon one of her Hozier cover videos on Twitter, distinctly marked with colorful, artistic graphics. Maybe you have noticed the hashtag #VoteTapiwa trending on social media. Or you might have watched her sing Adele’s ‘One and Only’ at the last pep rally of the 2016-2017 school year. A self-described perfectionist with a deep, soulful voice whose inspirations include Khalid, Etta James and Arethra Franklin, senior Tapiwa ‘Lilly’ Musimbe is set on vocal victory. After having been selected to be a part of Adam Levine and Miley Cyrus’ team on the inaugural season of The Voice on Snapchat, Lilly is working harder than ever to advance musically and make it big.

“The fact that I’ve been recognized by Adam Levine and Miley Cyrus, artists who I’ve listened to since I was little, is crazy,” Lilly said. “This whole experience is surreal.”

Lilly recalls her initial doubts about auditioning and says that she originally did not think much of the opportunity.

“My cousin sent me a link to The Voice on Snapchat audition sign up sheet,” Lilly said. “I honestly thought that I wouldn’t get selected because about 20,000 people turned in videos for review.”

Finally, Lilly decided to submit a video last minute in the hope that her voice would get noticed by the judges.

“The day before it was due, I had just been at work all day and it was 11p.m.,” Lilly said. “I only had an hour to make a video and send it in. It was a crazy moment for me because I ended up turning the video in about five minutes before it was due. I didn’t think much of it.”

Several weeks later, Lilly received news that would change her singing career.

“I was with my mom at the mall and she received a call,” Lilly said. “My mom stepped away from me and started screaming, so naturally I was confused and curious. She had gotten her camera out and was recording me. I sat down and after waiting a minute she told me I had been selected to be on Adam Levine and Miley Cyrus’ team. I got up and I started screaming. A week later, they sent the video of the judges watching my audition and I wanted to cry.”

For as long as she can remember, Lilly has had a love for music and performing. Hazel Musimbe, her older sister, fondly remembers Lilly’s early passion for music.

“I remember when Lilly was about six or seven years old she would sit us all down in the living room and perform for the family,” Hazel said. “She would even write songs for Christmas.”

In elementary school, Lilly joined a music club where she began playing the drums and the piano. As she got older, she began performing publicly in small settings.

“I started off singing in talent shows,” Lilly said. “Talent shows were my one chance every year to sing in front of everyone at school.”

In addition to singing in talent shows, Lilly is an active member of her church choir. Faith Chancey, Lilly’s mentor, first met her about eight years ago when the Musimbe family began attending her church.

“Lilly sings on my youth praise team,” Chancey said. “I was also her instructor and counselor

in Pathfinders, the children’s Christian outreach program and I continue to mentor her.”

Most recently, Lilly has performed at the Mr. West competition and Asian Fest. One of her most notable performances occurred in May at the last pep rally of the year.

“The morning of the pep rally, everything was going wrong,” Lilly said. “I hadn’t practiced my song and I didn’t even know what song I was singing until a few hours before. When I heard Blessing (Saungweme) call my name to come and perform, I just went for it. The crowd hyped me up and made me excited to perform.”

Despite facing nerves before the performance, Lilly received a standing ovation from students and teachers alike.

“It was a very scary moment for me, but one of the best moments I’ve had in terms of performing,” Lilly said. “I’m usually not used to moving around when I’m singing but that day I was comfortable. I was having a really good time.”

Lilly credits her success to her family, whose support has been vital in her singing career thus far.

“I couldn’t have done anything without the support of my friends and family,” Lilly said. “They give me so much confidence; even when I wasn’t a good singer, they helped me believe in myself. There’s never been a moment where I didn’t have support.”

Both Chancey and Hazel credit Lilly as an inspiration and are proud of how far she has come.

“I’m so proud of Lily for stepping out and reaching for her dreams at such a young age,” Chancey said. “Most people would be scared to audition for a show as big as The Voice on Snapchat, but Lily is someone who is focused and driven so it doesn’t surprise me that she auditioned. It would make so many of us proud if she made it to Hollywood.”

Lilly’s goals for the future include attending a liberal-arts school and majoring in music technology, where she hopes to learn how to produce her own music.

“I just want to surround myself with music in the future, Lilly said. “If I don’t become a singer, I want to be producing music, and if I’m not producing music I will hopefully be singing.”

One of the many ways Lilly makes her music her own is by using her first name as her stage name.

“When it comes to my music, I go by my first name, Tapiwa, because it’s my way of being personal with my music,” Lilly said. “Tapiwa is my actual name and it’s who I am. It’s personal to me.”

Lilly credits music and songwriting as an outlet, something that allows her to express herself in unprecedented ways. With her recent success on The Voice on Snapchat, her platform for expression is now greater than ever.

“Music has taught me who I really am as a person,” Lilly said. “It used to feel like a one-in-a-million chance that I could actually be successful in music, but now that I’m writing and singing songs and I’m only 17, it doesn’t feel like such a dream anymore. It’s more like a reality.”

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