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TRIBUTE TO WAYNE DELPORT (article first published : 2007-01-7)

It was on the 3rd of January that I heard the dreadful news - that my dear friend Wayne Delport was no more. Many people do not know that Wayne Delport was not only a close colleague of mine but a trusted, close and dear friend. Calling from a callbox in London on my birthday I was told the tragic news - I remember thinking of my time with Wayne and remembered his lust for life, sense of humour, his sense of humanity, his loyal friendship, his talent and above all his passion for his calling as an entertainer. My heart sank as I thought of his family and the many people he had touched during his short but amazing life. I was one of them....

Much is mentioned of Wayne's later career in Durban in the eulogies but I would like to talk about the Wayne I knew - the pre-Durban years. I first met Wayne at the Idols competition in 2002 - there was something about this kid - he had his own style, he had presence, he had star quality. And it was understandable when the nation caught a glimpse of the 20 year-old Wayne for the first time when he was given prime time coverage in Idols.

We got talking and he told me of his years in the Drakensberg Boys Choir and his dreams and aspirations. I remember his eyes lit up as he talked of fulfilling his dreams. We had formed a instant friendship and mutual respect for one another. Even though he only made the top 75 in Idols the cameras were drawn to him like a magnet and was soon becoming used to the attention he would receive throughout his career. I had met him again at Coca-cola Pop Stars 2002 - once again the cameras were drawn to this Durban boykie and his charisma following his every move....

At the time I was part of Kevin Feather's Doowah Boys and they were looking for a replacement in the show...without hesitation I suggested Wayne and because of his TV coverage Wayne had received Kevin actually knew who I was talking about. We had spent about a month rehearsing and about 4 months living together in Johannesburg doing the show and what many don't know is that on stage we were a deadly combination. He was an incredibly giving performer, slightly unconventional but highly effective - not to mention an uncanny sense of comic timing and a maturity on stage which overshadowed his lack of experience.

What was incredible was his desire to learn more, to do more and to be more. He also helped me co-write and played the piano on my first ever demo and I could not have done this without his crucial input on this recording. We both also had jobs in Turkey at different resorts in the same period and would talk on the phone and spur each other on. I always told him how proud of him I was - not only because of the entertainer he had become but also because of the person he was.... and I still am.

His death is a waste, but not just of a talent but also of a great friend who was vulnerable, funny, intelligent and generous. His life had touched many in and out of the industry and it is a tragedy that his life will never be complete. In his short life he touched so many people and had achieved so much despite the many obstacles he had to face that we should all be proud of our fallen hero.

To my friend Wayne - wherever you are .... I miss you, buddy. I hope you are sharing your talent with those in the other world like you did in life. I will always remember your indomitable spirit, your lust for life and your irreplaceable friendship. And I will carry your legacy and your memory in my heart always. Shanthan Pillay




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