After almost 1 500 entries in this year’s Huisgenoot Songwriting Competition, two of the finalists show off with more than one song in the top 10. Songwriters from across South Africa participated in this annual competition, which is now celebrating its fourth successful year. The Western Cape and Gauteng delivered the most finalists.

Wicus Pretorius, Editor of Huisgenoot-Tempo, says the quality of the entries shows there is incredible talent waiting to be developed. “There were so many excellent entries that it was an almost impossible task to choose only ten, but we are excited about the finalists who made the top 10. By getting this far in the competition, they’re already winners. Those who didn’t make the top 10 must please try again next year.”

The finalists in alphabetical order:

Cornél Botha (23) and Burger Coetzee (19) from Brits with Skryf Jy Liefde? (recorded by Winterstasie). Botha says: “The song was originally written as a poem, but my friend Burger and I adapted it as a song. The song is about people who struggle to relieve their pain in a constructive manner, and then physically hurt themselves to forget about it. Through the song I ask that we stand by people who struggle with personal problems. We must rather give them love and not judge them because we don’t understand their unique circumstances. Love conquers all!”

Botha, who grew up on a farm in De Wildt close to Hartebeespoortdam, works at Southern Pulse as a booker for pop and rock artists. “I’m very excited about the fact that Winterstasie recorded my song because they really are an exceptional group. I think a lot of people will connect with the song, whether it’s because of personal experiences or maybe a friend or child struggling with the same problem,” he says.

Patrick Josephs (39) of Mitchells Plain in Cape Town with Dis Waar Liefde Is (recorded by Brandon October and Corlea Botha). Josephs, a metal factory worker, did not expect his song to reach the top 10 - not because he thought it was not good enough, but because he has never won anything in his life. Josephs has been writing essays and poems since his school days but only started writing songs last year. “Writing is a way of escaping from my emotions and any problems that I’m dealing with. The song is about solutions for this. I’m overjoyed that I made it to the Top 10,” he says.

Josephs’ wife was the inspiration for his song. “I wrote this song for my wife when we went through a difficult time. Reaching the top 10 is definitely the highlight of my year.”

Michaela Oosthuizen (19) from Stellenbosch with Keuses (recorded by Juanita du Plessis), Gee, Gee, Gee (recorded by Chereé) and Jy’s Hierdie Lied (recorded by Charlize Berg).

Oosthuizen, a first year student at the University of Stellenbosch, shows off with three songs in the top 10. “The song Keuses, a real pop hit, is about just that – choices.. I wrote this song in my matric year when I was confronted with many choices. Every day we’re faced with choices and sometimes we have difficult ones to make,” she says. Commenting on Gee, Gee, Gee she says: “This song is about a girl whose boyfriend is cheating on her and she has had enough of his games. This is a real pop country song.”

Jy’s Hierdie Lied is a pop ballad, and she wrote it within half an hour. “It’s about being in love and all the cobwebs that come with that and how the guy in the story is the girl’s whole life, or rather her love song.” She says that she jumped up and down when she received the news about her three songs being in the top 10. “I wished and prayed that one of my songs would reach the top 10, but I never expected all three of them would make it,” she says.

Cara Pistorius (17) of Pretoria with Yogurt (recorded by Bianca le Grange). Pistorius is a grade 11 pupil at High School Menlopark in Pretoria. Yogurt is about teenage love and the confusion that comes along with it. The inspiration for her song came from a boy that she fell in love with, who really confused her. “One night I lit candles and went and sat at the swimming pool in order to try and make sense of what I was feeling. The inspiration hit me and I went to fetch my guitar and started writing,” she says.

She was very surprised when she found out she is a finalist. “My entries were late and I wasn’t even sure if they were accepted,” she says. She regards Yogurt as a love ballad with a twist. “I think it’s the type of song that will make people smile when they hear it on radio. The wording is sharp and the melody is striking. I feel like it’s a winning combination and it is Proudly Afrikaans,” she says.

Lia Smit (20) of Bellville in Cape Town with Vier Klippe (recorded by Manie Jackson).

Smit, a part-time music student who is studying both guitar and vocal performance, finds inspiration through the things that she experiences. “The song is about a girl who parts with her love at the beach. Three of the stones that is thrown in the water symbolise aspects of her lost love. The fourth stone represents a new beginning for her, with someone else,” she says.

Smit says that she got her inspiration for the song late one evening. “One of my good friends and I went to Bloubergstrand, walked around and looked at the stars. I saw a girl standing on a rock and she threw something in the water. The whole picture of her standing there, parting with something, immediately formed a song in my mind,” she says. As her song only contained lyrics, the melody was composed by Niel Schoombee.

Chris-Evert Strauss (32) of Stellenbosch with Spore In Die Lug (recorded by Gerhard Steyn).

Strauss, an accounting student, says the inspiration for his song hails from an airhostess friend. “I wanted to write something about people who travel a lot and leave trails in the air. It’s a universal message and is meant for all pilots and airhostesses,” he says.

He taught himself how to play the guitar and since then he entertains his friends and family with new lyrics. “I love music and have been writing lyrics since I was young as a favourite pastime. A while ago I adapted some of my music and decided to enter some of them for the competition. This is truly a dream come true for me,” he says.

Emil Struwig (22) of Johannesburg with 1001 Soene (recorded by Heinz Winkler) and Dis Wat Ons Harte Wil Hê (recorded by Romanz).

Struwig, who holds a degree in music theatre, was born in Namibia. He is now based in Johannesburg, where he wants to make his mark in the music industry. He was a well-known face on stages in the Welgemoed area in Cape Town, where he lived living until recently, and reached Cape Town’s theatre round of this year’s Idols competition.

“Both of my songs are about love – one can only write about something you know. Love and relationships has its ups and downs and I can easily capture, in words, the emotions that come along with it,” he says. 1001 Soene is about the longing when you are away from your loved one. Dis Wat Ons Harte Wil Hê tells the story about when two people fall in love and know that they are meant for each other. He says that he has this bad habit, since his school days, of riding his chair when talking on the telephone, and when Huisgenoot phoned him to tell him the good news, he literally fell of his chair.

The public is now invited to vote for their favourite songs. Listen to the top 10 by visiting or on Huisgenoot’s Facebook page. Each song also has a music video. The closing date for voting is 11 July 2011 – see the latest issue of Huisgenoot or on their website for more details. The winner of the 2011 Huisgenoot Songwriting Competition will be announced at the Huisgenoot-Tempo-Awards on 19 July at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park. Tickets are R50 each. Bookings can be made through Computicket (083-915-8000 or