It may have been his first ever live performance on the big stage, but that didn’t stop Tevita Moala from singing his way to Urban Quest success over the weekend.
The 16 year old Darwin High School student outperformed 10 other finalists to win the Mission Australia talent competition at the Darwin Entertainment Centre on Saturday night.
The singing pianist brought many in the sold-out crowd to tears with his rendition of John Legend’s I won’t complain.
The young Kiwi national introduced the gospel song as a dedication to a friend in New Zealand who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy.
Guest judge Deni Hines described Moala’s touching performance as better than that of John Legend’s.
“I want it on CD, cause I’d buy it now,” the soul songstress said.
An overwhelmed Moala was lost for words at the win, scoring for himself 12 months mentoring from Music NT, cash and studio recording time.
“My friend Jeanie entered me in the competition, so if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be here now,” Moala said.
“I was really nervous - this is the first time I’ve done something like this - but I just felt the music and am so happy.”
The Michael Buble and Temptations fan will now put his winnings to work as he pursues his musical dreams.
Jack and Sam Weaver and Peter Rautoka were equal runners-up in the competition, which raised funds for youth homeless across the Top End.
Australian pop idol Mark Holden awarded all three acts a “touchdown”, as well as 13 year old Shiane Hawke with her collaboration of Amazing Grace and Duffy’s Mercy.
Beatboxer Kane Bishop was awarded Best Composition of the night.
Mission Australia Operations Manager Brad McIver said the night was a huge success and lifted the profile of youth homelessness.
“We exceeded our expectations for Urban Quest and the money raised will support us to develop new accommodation for homeless youth in the NT and expand our current services and programs,” Mr McIver said.
“Every little bit helps and if we can make a difference in one of the 5000 homeless Territory kids lives, then that’s what this event was all about.”
Urban Quest will become an annual fundraiser on the Mission Australia NT calendar.