Written by Monkey Woods
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Thursday, 27 May 2010

image for Siphiwo Ntshebe World Cup Song To Be Sung By Nelson Mandela
Send no flowers, please

Siphiwo Ntshebe, the South African opera singer chosen by Nelson Mandela to perform at the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup has died from meningitis, his record label said, and Mr Mandela himself will now sing his song.

Ntshebe, 34, dubbed the 'Black Pavarotti', was admitted to hospital in Port Elizabeth last week and died on Tuesday, said Epic Records.

He was due to perform his new track Hope, of which, apparently, he had very little, at the opening ceremony in Johannesburg on June 11.

Epic boss Nick Raphael said Ntshebe's death was "a tragedy for all those who believe in the power of music".

"He had a truly wondrous voice and his music was unique in its melodies and its messages of hope and compassion. Mind you, it didn't do him much good!", he added.

Mr Mandela, 91, told a press conference this morning that he had always wanted to be a singer ever since he had heard the touching tribute to him, Free Nelson Mandela, performed by Coventry-based The Special AKA in 1989. Said Mr Mandela:

"I used to sing that song every day in my cell. It was very good."

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