While the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is where you find the top artists in jazz right now, it is also where you go to find the stars of the future.
The CTIJF provides plenty of opportunities for newcomers to make their mark, but not just any singer will work, it has to be that artist with a little something extra, like Craig Lucas.
Like so many people Lucas took to the stage for the first time when "The Voice SA" hit our television screens for the first time in 2016.
Unlike so many people Lucas immediately made the best kind of impression. His blistering take on The Animals’ "House of the Rising" Sun enticed all four judges to press their buzzers.
Despite some serious entreaties from all four, Lucas eventually chose Parlotones lead Kahn Morbee – the first judge to turn his chair – as his coach. Morbee insisted on referring to Lucas as the love child of Freddy Mercury and John Legend and coached him again the next year. While he did not make it to the top spot that year Lucas won the second edition of "The Voice SA" in 2017 and immediately signed a record deal with Universal Music South Africa.
The now 27-year-old originally studied an Economics and Politics degree with an Honours in Finance at the University of Cape Town and finished his studies two weeks before "The Voice SA" auditions started.
Though he had struggled with performance anxiety when he tried to sing at mall events or school talent shows, Lucas soldiered on through "The Voice SA". He may not have slain all his demons, but he convincingly conquered that particular stage and has spoken on radio about how treating the TV series as a put up or shut up moment pushed him to the next level.
His 12-track debut album "Restless" was released in October 2017 and nominated in the best Pop Album category at the 2018 South African Music Awards. Written over the course of two months during sessions with co-writers such as Bubele Booi, Dominic Neil and Jethro Tait, it features two covers, some reworked songs written by Lucas long before and new works.
The album blends R&B elements into an edgy pop sound and tracks like "Hearts Exposed," "I Said This" and "Smother" (duet with Idols winner Paxton Fielies) have received extensive airplay on local radio stations.
Late in 2018 Lucas penned an open letter on social media detailing his struggle to come out of the closet and thoughts of suicide. He followed this up with a heartfelt thanks days later for the overwhelming support displayed by fans towards his letter.
Since winning "The Voice SA" Lucas has popped up at music festivals and solo gigs around the country and appearing on the Cape Town International Jazz Festival stage will be one of his biggest gigs to date.
He will be found on the CTIJF stage on Saturday 30 March at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Tickets available now at Computicket.