Growing up on a small farm in Malmesbury with very little to go by, Roman Marcus Adams and his family spent their Sundays at church where they used to sing praise.
Last week Roman found himself on a much bigger stage when he and his choir, Asili, performed at the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s Soundscape event, which was directed by Aviva Pelham.
It was at church that he learned about music. He said it was a safe space for him to express himself musically, and the fact that his voice was appreciated gave him a sense of fulfilment.
Roman attended an arts-based high school and was helped by his older brother and sister who were in their mid-20s at the time.
Although he had shared love for both drama and music, Roman said there was a time when his voice transitioned and he thought he would never be able to hold a perfect note or even sing again. The songbird in him was mortified.
Fortunately, a baritone was born and he ended up performing in the District Six and Grease musicals on stage.
After high school he had a failed attempt in pursuing a career in musical theatre.
He applied to both Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town to study Fine Arts. However, he failed to show up for both auditions as he was caught up in his responsibilities as a participant of the debate team, the school choir, being a student representative, deputy headboy and on the junior town council at the time. On top of that he had performances with his drama team.
To make matters worse for himself, other than wanting to study the theory behind the arts, he had no Plan B.
After thorough self-introspection, he called the student advisor and curriculum advisor where he was told to consider studying towards a BA in Media and Film or Bachelor of Social Sciences.
He got accepted to do his BA where he dropped film and did Media and Gender studies and later changed to Bachelor of Social Science in which he graduated in 2016.
The name of his choir, Asili, means “The originals” in Swahili.
The group gained traction through a video they posted on Facebook.
Roman hopes to one day turn Asili into a performing arts academy as the group itself consists of professionals such as lecturers, scientists, pharmacists and occupational therapists.
He says that the academy would be open to people from any background, age or gender and that it should be possible for everyone to live their dream other than doing something their parents say is “realistic”.