For most people, their singing careers remain in the shower but for Manuel Escorcio, this is where it took flight. What makes Manuel even more unique is that his repertoire mainly consisted of Afrikaans music. This, for a Portuguese man, seems bizarre.
He is more recently known for his presence in television programmes such as Huisgenoot’s Skouspels as well as being a coach on Supersterre. When asked the reason for singing in Afrikaans, he revealed the method to his madness by telling us that there was a market for it when he started his career in the 70s. And with a track record of singing for people like F.W. De Klerk and other diplomats, we can see why.
However, Manuel’s journey to success wasn’t an easy road to follow. He was born and raised in Mozambique but after his cousin was killed in the border war, his parents decided that it was time for him to leave the country.
The then 16-year-old Manuel left the country in search of a better life without the ability to even speak English.
“I used to meet my parents in Swaziland. When my parents came to Swaziland, they only had 20 bucks,” Manuel explained.
When arriving in the Western Cape, an education was vital as his parents wanted to see him thrive. It was then that he started studying at Stellenbosch University.
Though a well-known singer today, it’s hard to believe that his first choice of studies happened to be theology.
At night he would frequently sing in the shower but was hushed by the prefect in his dorm. “Fortunately he had the common sense to tell the music teacher at the university of this Portuguese that could sing,” he said.
Manuel was asked to sing something and because his English was not on par there seemed to be a difficulty in communication. Fortunately, music seemed to break the Language barrier and he was encouraged to study music. In 1977 after lecturing in music at the university, Manuel felt the stage calling him and it was then that he decided to venture into a solo career.
Today Manuel is more than an accomplished singer able to sing across a broad spectrum of genres such as opera, gospel and Afrikaans and in several different languages. He has recorded 53 cds to date and has gotten more than 32 operas under the belt.
One of his biggest accomplishments was being the youngest person to be awarded the title of Comendador by the Portuguese government.
With such versatility, we were curious to know which his favourite was.
“My favourite genre is classical music. I am sorry I can’t make a living out of it though,” he said. Gospel has also been a blessing to him and he makes it a habit to visit a different church every Sunday.