Last year, the hit singing competition TV show The Voice made its debut in South Africa. The international franchise stands apart from other reality shows like it because of its unique take on the audition process. The blind auditions really make it about what you hear.

As a new show in the country, it had to be an exciting time for the contestants and judges alike. Showcasing regional talent gave everyone a chance to meet and fall in love with potential new stars who otherwise probably wouldn’t have had the platform. Vernon Barnard was one of those people.

Singing One Direction’s “Story of My Life”, Vernon’s shot at musical stardom was in the hands of coaches Lira, Karen Zoid, Kahn Morbee, and Bobby van Jaarsveld. Who would be the one to turn around? Watch the video! At 22, Vernon’s voice is rock solid. He sounds like someone who’s been singing for a long time, with the emotional depth that we all want to hear for a song like this.

Image of contestant on The Voice.The Voice South Africa
Almost immediately, Coach Bobby turned around. The chair had barely spun around before the enthusiastic judge did a Tom Cruise-like jump onto his seat! Fellow coaches Lira and Karen also pushed their “I Want You” buttons to try to snag Vernon for themselves. In addition to his stunning voice, what also caught their attention was Vernon’s sight.
Vernon began singing as a child, and taught himself how to play the drums at age 12. You often hear this type of backstory with contestants, but Vernon is different because he is blind. Diagnosed with glaucoma right after birth, he underwent over a dozen unsuccessful surgeries before he turned 5.

By age 6, Vernon was completely blind, but he credits his parents for making him strong and independent, and not wanting any pity. After a winning a talent show at school, his confidence and interest in making music got a boost. He was drawn to the audition stage for The Voice because of its emphasis on the power of a voice.

Check out Bobby’s emotional reaction as Vernon continues to light up the stage with his talent. He killed it! Bobby ended up snatching up the young crooner for his team and helped him sail through to the final 8. Though Vernon didn’t win the competition, he captured the hearts of South Africans everywhere, including management at Universal Music – South Africa. He was offered a recording contract!

We in the U.S. don’t often get exposed to artists from South Africa, but Vernon’s audition video was so popular it’s gotten over 13,000,000 hits on YouTube. Today, Vernon is recording music, making videos, and performing all over. What’s even sweeter is that he also found love with a fellow Voice contestant, Nadine Sisam. The lovebirds are slated to appear in a theater production together this summer. Here’s to hoping his dreams come true!


What do you think of Vernon’s voice? Were you also moved by his inspirational performance? Have you been converted into a Vernon Barnard fan like Bobby? Tell us in the comments!