Chasing dreams

A local singer wants to show the youth of Walvis Bay that dreaming big is possible.

25 August 2019 | People

Walvis Bay • Leandrea Louw



Soulful vocalist Vernice Plaatje (26) recently returned to Walvis Bay after a three-year internship at Hillsong South Africa.

She first began singing with the Duneside High School choir and hasn't looked back since.

Vernice says the first two years at Hillsong in Cape Town, South Africa, was part of her internship and in the third and final year she volunteered. “It was such an amazing experience, with friends becoming family, and I realised what it is to be called and have a relationship with God.”

She says her mother, Vernè, applied for a spot at Hillsong on her behalf. “At first I was a bit sceptical if I would be accepted, but today I can thank my mother for ­taking the initiative. She has been with me every step of the way – through the good times and the bad.

“Being part of Hillsong moulded me in so many ways and made me realise what is truly important. Unfortunately in these times we are so focused on the material aspects of our lives, that we forget what truly matters and what is of real value to us.”



Coming home

Vernice says she would come home to visit during holiday breaks, but the past two years it got harder and harder to go back to Cape Town. “I didn't understand at first, but later on I realised there's a lot of work to be done here in Walvis Bay.”

She said for the first year of your internship, all you do is serve at Hillsong. “It usually takes a while before you can sing on that enormous stage. However, I was already ­allocated to sing in my first year and I was absolutely ecstatic. I love singing in choirs, as it all started with a choir for me.”

Vernice says one of the highlights during her time at Hillsong was performing at the Colour Me Ladies Conference, which is a global event. “I believe that you should stay consistent in your quest. Say yes to the Lord and you will be amazed at what He can do. Stay humble and always remember why you are doing what you are doing. We tend to get so tired easily, and simply want to give up, but dig deep and remember your why.”

During her time at Hillsong she also had the opportunity to travel to Kenya for seven­ days to do missionary work.

“Despite the people's living conditions, they were welcoming and open to hear about what it is we do. I'll never forget their friendliness, their smiles and their hunger to worship God.”



New projects

Upon her return to Walvis Bay, Vernice has been working ­non-stop, slaving behind the stove in the kitchen to accomplish her dreams. “I started baking to generate funds for me to record at Nautilus Studios in Swakopmund,” she says.

She has recorded two covers and released it on YouTube – Kim Walker Smith's “Just Be” and Karyn Hawthorne's “You Still Love Me”.

She recently travelled­ to California, USA, and attended the WorshipU ­programme at Bethel Church in ­Redding. Bethel Music's ­WorshipU is a guide for ­worship leaders, songwriters­ and musicians to cultivate a lifestyle of ­worship. Their mission is to equip attendees to move people's hearts into a profound experience with God's presence that ­transforms their lives forever.

“It was such a great experience! It took some sacrifices, faith and a whole lot of prayer, but I am happy I could experience it. I've always struggled with songwriting, and attending WorshipU gave me much-needed guidance to start writing my own songs.”

Vernice is still baking as a means to ­gene­rate funds for all her upcoming ­projects. “There is just something so rewarding about working for money rather than having to ask for sponsorships. I am busy working on a very special project with Nautilus which will soon be revealed on my social media platforms.”



Collaboration

Vernice says she wants to collaborate with local musicians.

“I don't want to box myself by only focusing on gospel. Travelling extensively has made me realise that you don't have to station yourself out of town – you can make things happen for yourself in Walvis Bay. You can create your own opportunities. What I have seen is that the youth of Walvis Bay tend to focus on what they don't have and usually sell themselves short. But I am here to change that.

“I want to encourage the youth of Walvis Bay to dream big. Every child has his or her own passions, talents and dreams. At times, the support from the parents is simply not there, but that shouldn't stop you from dreaming big.

“Never limit yourself. I want to be an example – I've been dreaming since I was 18 to establish myself as a household name when it comes to my music.

I'm not there yet, but I'm working tirelessly to achieve that dream. The grass isn't always greener on the other side. It's greener where you water it.”

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