On April 17, Matheus Soares will appear LIVE on RTÉ TV as one of the last 8 contestants in the “The Voice of Ireland” semifinal. Chosen out of more than 5,000 applicants, this Navan teenager longs to use his voice to praise God. VOX editor Ruth Garvey-Williams caught up with Matheus to find out a bit more about this remarkable singer, about his faith in Jesus and what it is like appearing on the popular show.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m 19 years old. I’m from Brazil but I live in Navan, Co Meath. I moved here nine years ago with my parents and my sister, so I’ve been in Ireland for most of my life. There are times when I feel more Irish, and there are times I feel more Brazilian. I know everything about Irish history and very little about Brazil, so I think I’m a bit more Irish. At the moment, I’m studying at Dublin Business School and I also work in a hotel. I’m the choir director of my church (People’s Church in Duleek, Co Meath).
Why did to you apply for The Voice of Ireland?
I’ve received a lot of prophecies that I was going to sing in front of a lot of people. Last June, I was sitting on the couch watching TV and the ad for The Voice came up. I felt I should apply, so I did, not thinking much of it. A few days later, I received a phone call saying that I was through to the first round of auditions. It was a surreal experience.
What happened next?
Before the blind audition, there are two rounds of auditions, narrowing us down from an initial 5,000 people to 150 who will take part in the show itself. There is a long way to go before you get to the big stage. At the blind auditions, the judges select 56 contestants (14 for each judge).
I was absolutely terrified when I got up to sing. If you look at the video, you can see it looks like I’m talking to myself. Actually, I was praying the whole way through! Almost as soon as I started singing, Rachel turned around. (Ed: Rachel Stevens, one of The Voice judges, began her career as part of pop group S Club 7.)
I thought, “I can breathe now.” I was very nervous, but at least I could relax because she had turned her chair around. It means a lot to me that my sister and my parents were there with me to support me. For my parents, it is also their dream to see me follow my dreams. It was comforting that no matter what happened, they were there for me.
After the blind audition, you had to battle against one of the other singers in Team Rachel. Tell us about that.
When we all start to get paired up, in the back of my mind, I thought I would be against Stephanie Anketell. A few moments later, we were paired up. It was terrifying. She is a natural rock singer. I remember thinking; “This woman can swallow me whole!” We had to wait a long, long time to go on stage. When we got up to sing, I was praying, “Please God, if this is meant to be for me, let me get through to the next round.” Even so, I was gobsmacked when Rachel picked me to go through. It was worth the wait.
What comes next?
The Live Knockout Show is on Sunday 3 April. I will basically have to sing my own song against two other people from Team Rachel, and they will choose one of us to go through to the next round. I’m praying every day, “Please, God, give me one more chance!” I have a lot of rehearsals and sound checks and vocal training. I’m trying to juggle that alongside work and college and church as well. It’s quite hectic.
Tell us about your faith. What does Jesus mean to you?
Jesus is everything to me. If it wasn’t for Him, I certainly would not be here today. So many things happened to me but by His grace and love I’m still here. It means a lot to know that I have someone who will never let me down.
I’ve always followed Jesus because of my parents. When I was a kid, I used to find church very boring. I would fall asleep in the back row. It is hilarious because nowadays I get mad at people who fall asleep in church! I’ve grown up in church and knowing God. My parents taught me about God and to follow Him and honour Him in all I do.
When I arrived in Ireland, I had no English and I used to be a very chubby kid. People used to pick on me a lot, call me names and call me “fat”. With all the struggles and the bullying I used to suffer, I knew that I could always call on God. My parents didn’t know what was happening. I was always praying and asking Him to help me deal with the situation. I never retaliated, and I tried to show Jesus’ love to those who were bullying me. Now, we are friends.
Tell us a bit about your church.
Our church is mainly Brazilian, but sometimes we have Irish, Nigerian or other folks visiting us. My parents are the assistant pastors there. We are part of the Church of God network in Ireland. We use both English and Portuguese in the services depending on who is there. There are people in the congregation who don’t understand English at all, so if we have visitors, we use English, but we always provide translation into Portuguese as well.
We are trying to reach out into our community, mainly through the youth in the church. We visit old people’s homes to bring them presents, to sing with them and to share God’s love with them. Some of them don’t have anyone anymore. We want to visit to bring a little happiness into their lives and show them that they are not alone.
Do you have a favourite song?
My favourite song is “The Revelation Song” - it has so much passion and meaning. Even Christian songs can sometimes miss something and be too commercialised. They lack Jesus. I love that song because I can really feel God’s presence straight away, and I like to sing it in church almost every week.
What is your dream?
I really want to go around the world and spread the good news through song. Whether through Christian music or secular music, I still want to have that message, no matter what song I’m singing. I’ve learnt through the years that we cannot put a limit on God. He works in His way. God uses whoever He wants to use. I say to God, “You gave me the gift of song, and I want to use it to praise your name.”