Armand Joubert: A distinctive queer voice


Former The Voice contestant, Armand Joubert talks music and life with MambaOnline

Armand Joubert takes the stage with confidence. The lights are low, and the performer begins as the music strikes up, first with a sensual hip sway, then a series of perfectly timed staccato-like hand and foot movements. There is a crescendo, the music intro comes to an end and Joubert starts to sing. His voice has an exquisite ring to it, and he sounds like an ethereal being.

He sings an old Gwen Guthrie classic, Rent. He has put his own modern spin on it and it sounds even better than the original. “No romance without finance” repeats in his astounding voice, which gives off a little George Michael and a touch of those old 60s and 70s soul singers.

There are no more than fifty people in the audience, yet Joubert delivers a performance fit for a stadium of thousands. It doesn’t matter to him how many people he is singing for, simply that he is able to sing.

“I’ve been singing since I was a kid,” he says, flashing a smile that is simultaneously cheeky and bashful. “I knew since I was small that this is what I wanted to do. That this is what I wanted as a career.”

Joubert comes from a musical family that have supported his dreams. His whole family sings, he says. Even his extended family sings. However, he is the only one who chose to pursue singing as a vocation.

“My dad used to drive me everywhere when I was young so I could perform for people he thought needed to hear me sing,” he says, “We even drove to Cape Town once. And sometimes, we would drive long distances to see someone and I wouldn’t get to see them and we’d just have to drive all the way back.”

He grew up in Witbank, Mpumalanga. These days he opens shows for acts like Prime Circle, Sho Modjozi and Lady Samar.

And while his voice is his greatest instrument, he plays keyboard and guitar. “And a little bit of mandolin,” he confesses shyly.

Joubert is remarkably down to earth. We discuss neighbourhoods and star signs. We talk singing and breathing exercises. Spiritual practices. It feels like he is a long lost gay nephew and we’re meeting for the first time. He is humble, gentle, and it feels as though we are having a conversation, not an interview.

His break came when he appeared on The Voice South Africa. He proved to be a popular contestant in the show, and when he was voted off in the early rounds, fans petitioned to bring him back.

“It was on The Voice that I learned a lot about work ethics,” he says, “It was a big life-changing thing for me. Karen Zoid was my coach and the first thing she said to us was that we should all drop out egos, we should relax and we weren’t there to be ‘fancy’. She said, ‘you’re here to work’. That was a big eye-opener for me. It was focus time.”

Joubert is also a deeply spiritual person, bringing the belief that part of his work is to convey connection with others through his singing. And he is most certainly succeeding in this, as the small crowd gathered to hear him sing gets up to dance and mingle, and strangers make new friends. He bows, thanks the audience, and joins their celebration as though he was an old friend.

This man has star quality, enormous vocal potential, and a boy-next-door attitude. No wonder such renowned artists want him to open for them. Let the great things come, because he is undoubtedly a star on the rise.

You can find Armand Joubert’s music on Spotify, including his first Afrikaans single Met Jou Klere Af. You can also follow him on Instagram.

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