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The power of listening: Mteto Maphoyi at TEDxTeen

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Published on Apr 10, 2012

Mteto's father left behind one Pavarotti CD when he abandoned Mteto, his brothers, and his mother in a small Xhosa township in South Africa's Western Cape. Mteto was four years old and before his father died eleven years later Mteto would see him only once more. As a child, Mteto played his Pavarotti CD one phrase at a time, sounding out the Italian lyrics to teach himself to sing "Santa Lucia" and "'O Sole Mio."

Soon Mteto and his friends formed the Six Tenors, a group of six teenagers who sang opera on the streets to support their families in a shantytown with over 40% unemployment. Living a catch-as-catch-can life, Mteto fell into a pattern of crime after his mother's death from HIV/AIDS, enduring multiple stabbings and a burning in gang wars and chance fights. Now a twenty-two year old with a knife scar stretching the length of his cheek, Mteto has used opera to pull himself out of the cycle of gang life.

Mteto is receiving formal training at South Africa's prestigious Black Tie Ensemble at the State Theatre, Pretoria (blackties.co.za) and is starring in the documentary, The Creators: South Africa through the eyes of its artists (thecreatorsdocumentary.com).

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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