by JENNY McPHEE
Jayden Walker, who attends Roncalli Catholic College, Timaru, has been blessed with an amazing voice. A soprano, he is a familiar face on Timaru street corners, busking. Jayden says busking has given him the confidence he needs to sing to large audiences and it helps pay for his singing lessons with Vernon Midgley in Christchurch. His “Voice of an angel” sends shoppers from stationary and silent to loud applause. Timaru’s local support for one of their own is heart-warming.
But Jayden is not seen only on the streets. Once, upon hearing of the evacuation of cruise ship passengers in the port after their vessel broke its mooring lines and proceeded to plot its own course around the port, Jayden provided the evening’s on-land entertainment.
Always conscious that his God-given gift is for sharing, Jayden has humbly accepted invitations to sing for people — on occasions free of charge. Once he sang You’ll never walk alone for a lady before she died. This attitude, along with his hard work, talent and solo shows (raising funds for Kidney Kids), saw him awarded the Mainland/AMP South Regional Scholarship grant of $5000, ahead of 168 others in 2016. This is a grant designed to help the recipients realise their dreams. In Jayden’s case, the dream is very quickly turning into reality.
A whirlwind trip round Europe last year included stops in Vienna and Salzburg (the birthplace of Mozart, who is Jayden’s inspiration.) On a bus trip connected with The Sound of Music, Jayden sang quietly along with other passengers, not knowing that on his return to New Zealand, he would win the audition for the part of Frederick Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, touring nationwide last year. (He shared the role with another young man, as the children’s roles are duplicated.)
While in Europe, Jayden visited the Vatican. An invitation had been sent to him in New Zealand after an office at the Vatican had received his CD titled “In joy, a few of my favourite things”. Jayden saw Pope Francis walk with a metre of him and he heard a papal address.
Another highlight of Jayden’s European visit was a visit to the tomb of James Graham (nobleman, poet and soldier, 1st Marquis of Montrose, a direct ancestor of Jayden’s — his mother’s maiden name is Graham). This visit had a special meaning for Jayden. His ancestor fought in the civil war 1644-1646, in Scotland and earned the name of “The great Montrose”.
In London, memorable events included the shows The Lion King and Les Miserables. Jayden was inspired by the song from the latter titled Little people sung by Gavroche. His performance of the song had once won him the junior section at the Country Music Festival in Gore.
For someone who usually lands on his feet, a recent fall from a horse, in which he broke both arms, didn’t stop Jayden from successfully auditioning for a part in Tosca, singing with the New Zealand Opera. He was to be part of the children’s chorus, along with 11 Christchurch boys.