Perfect fit come rain or shine

"Celeb Tester" Timothy Moloi finds out which make of umbrella suits him best

SAMA nominee Timothy Moloi is fast becoming South Africa's favourite crooner. With his smooth-as-velvet voice and masterful range, Moloi has a talent that ranks among the all-time greats.

His double Sama nominated debut album, Love That Music, was released last year to critical acclaim. This album of original music was recorded in South Africa and mastered at the Abbey Road Studios in London.

"The album is an adult contemporary soul, R&B album with a distinct gospel influence. The music was not predetermined. Instead I create music organically."

Born and raised in Orlando, Soweto, Moloi grew up in a music-filled home. His father was a minister who raised his son to have an appreciation for gospel music.

"We are all singers. Growing up there was always someone humming some beautiful tune."

Though his music might not be the club-thumping anthems preferred by the youth, Moloi has not shied away from popular Internet sites to promote himself. His powerful acoustic versions of some of today's biggest hits can be heard on YouTube, including One Republic's Apologise and Kelly Clarkson's My Life Would Suck Without You. His rendition of Ne-Yo's Mad has received almost 100,000 hits to date.

Moloi returned to South Africa in 1999, having completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Ohio Wesleyan University in the US. His decision to return while other artists are leaving the country in droves has confused many of his fans. As far as Moloi is concerned, however, there is no better place to be.

"I felt so homesick I just had to come back. But besides that I honestly believe that South Africa is the next big thing. Australia has had its run with people like Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue and Hugh Jackman; it is now our turn.

"We must take advantage of the spotlight that is on this country now. If I am going to make it then I must make it here at home."

He has enjoyed a warm welcome home and has had the pleasure of singing with the kwaZulu-Natal , Johannesburg and Cape philharmonic orchestras, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, the Soweto Gospel Choir and the Jonny Cooper Big Band.

He has appeared in numerous stage productions, including Motown Gold, Little Shop of Horrors, His Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra and Bring on Broadway, as well as The Playhouse Company's 10th anniversary celebrations in Durban. He was recently in Motown Magic.

Moloi might very well be the only person who is happy that winter has arrived.

"I struggle to dress for summer. I find it's much easier to dress for winter weather. Winter fashion looks more fashionable with its many layers, coats and boots."

He also admits he loves the rain.

"I just love cosy weather and rain is perfect for cuddling on the sofa."

He puts some umbrellas through their paces to see which is best for any winter rain that might be coming our way.

First he tries a Woolworths umbrella. "This is not portable enough. It's far too cumbersome to be transported easily. And the colours are a bit too busy."

Next he tries the Samsonite Umbrella. "I like how compact this one is. It's pretty nifty."

Now he tries an umbrella from Orange. "This is very compact. It's a bit flimsy and it doesn't lock easily. You might struggle in the rain with this one."

Lastly he tries the Derby umbrella. "This one is strong, and it looks, and feels durable. I also like that it is bigger than the others. The army green is also very nice. Of all these umbrellas, if I were to get caught in a thunderstorm, I would want to have this one on me."