This month one of Cape Town’s biggest Tik-Tok singing sensations released her first single after having been signed to a worldwide deal. Whitney April, from Bothasig in Cape Town, has recorded an awe-inspiring version of the classic The Prayer.

April’s success on Tik-Tok, coupled with an ever-growing fan-base, had her noticed by the same team that manages Grammy-winning artist PJ Morton

Only 25 years old, Whitney April has already been making a name for herself in the TikTok metaverse where she’s garnered a million likes for her acapella renditions of songs such as “Part of Your World” from the Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid,” Hillsong Worship’s “Here I Am to Worship,” and Adele’s “Easy on Me.”

Now, Whitney April is poised to expand her reach beyond the world of TikTokers as she releases an awe-inspiring update of “The Prayer” with Rodrick Dixon of the Three Mo’ Tenors classical trio. She first heard the original 1998 David Foster-produced Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli version when she was a child, but really fell in love with the 2003 remake by gospel legends Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams. It’s fitting that Adams’ music director, Rodney East, was recruited to produce the charming new orchestration. 

Watch the music video to The Prayer below :

East, who has also collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z and Whitney Houston, creates a majestic musical backdrop that is as big and alluring as the original Quest for Camelot motion-picture soundtrack versions. The recording was an international event. East was at his Chicago, IL studio watching April sing her parts on Zoom from her brother’s recording studio in Cape Town. On another day, Dixon laid his vocals in Chicago.  Then, GRAMMY® Award winning engineer James Auwarter, who worked on both Kanye West’s breakthrough Late Registration project and Rihanna’s “A Girl Like Me,” mixed and mastered the track from his London, England studio.

April opens the song in a warm, breathy tone, followed by Dixon’s thunderous vibrato. As they alternate between English and Italian passages, their voices gracefully complement each other’s on the verses, while blending in divine harmony on the choruses. April’s soaring, sophisticated soprano proves dazzling in an understated manner with Dixon providing a beautiful counterpoint. When asked what makes “The Prayer” so poignant after twenty-five years, April offers a simple reply. “Honestly, it’s the feeling of the song,” she says. “It’s so sincere.”

Sincerity is April’s approach to life and music. She grew up in a tight-knit, churchgoing family. Her mother is a schoolteacher, and her father is a college facility manager. She also has a younger brother. As a child, she amused herself by singing songs from the “Barney & Friends” children’s program or Sunday school and a lot of Fifth Harmony tracks, but never dreamed of a career as a vocalist. Inspired by her mother’s vocation and work with youth, “I took the safe route and did my job,” she chuckles. She earned a degree from Varsity College and began teaching English, Afrikaans, and other subjects to six- and seven-year-old students.

One day, April had some leisure time and was bored. She saw a TikTok video of someone doing cover songs and decided to do one for fun. She began singing a variety of Pop songs, and quickly  developed a following.  Fans started requesting that she sing specific tunes. “One person asked if I ever sang gospel and I said that I do,” she recalls. That person requested she sing Nicole C. Mullen’s 2000 gem, “Redeemer.”  Her heartfelt version now has over a quarter million views.

Along the way, Wade Jordan, manager for GRAMMY® Award winning American recording artist and Maroon5 keyboardist PJ Morton, came across some of April’s videos and was impressed. “He asked if I might be interested in making a recording,” she recalls. “Making the videos was just fun for me. I didn’t think of doing music full time. I always dreamed, but I never thought it would happen.”

PJ Morton is an American Grammy winning musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. Since 2012, he has been the keyboardist for Maroon 5. In 2017, PJ Morton released his first self-released studio album Gumbo, earning Morton two Grammy Award nominations for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Song at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

The dream is now reality as some of the most accomplished behind-the-scenes people in music gather to re-introduce “The Prayer” through this brilliant new take. “Whitney’s voice is simply angelic on this rendition,” says James Auwarter who engineered recordings by some of the greats of this generation. “I just started work on the Dolby Atmos mix version, and this will bring the song to life even more!” However, Whitney April remains low-key and humble about everything that’s happening to her.  “I believe that God put me in this place where people who feel like there’s no hope can be encouraged through my voice,” she says. “I’m just a vessel.”

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