“No one in our family's ever done anything like this, but my mum was just speaking about how she's really inspired watching me go for my dreams,” the reality star tells New Idea.
“I've wanted nothing else since I was a little girl to be a musician and I've stopped at nothing to make that happen. And I'm just really proud of myself for having this unwavering determination.”
Thando’s number one fan, however, is arguably her daughter Charlie, who adorably interrupted her blind audition as she called for her mum from side stage.
“Whenever we watch it back on TV, she's always like, ‘is that you mummy?’,” Thando gushes. “All I wanted for her to do was just to see me being the best version of myself and being happy so that she can want that for herself and know that it's okay. To just do what makes you happy. It's very important to me that she knows that.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Melbourne local has taken The Voice stage, with the performer appearing on the singing competition eight years ago. Though, things have been “very different” this time around.
“The first time I was on it, it used to run a lot longer on television. This time was different because of a lot of different factors like COVID,” the singer explains.
“Production got shut down at one point because cast members started getting COVID from each other,” she continues, adding it was “too big of a risk” to continue.
“Imagine getting to the grand final and not being able to actually perform because you’re in isolation.”
But the shut down wasn’t the toughest part for Thando, who found the battle rounds particularly gruelling.
“Just knowing that you’re singing against someone, it's not very pleasant. Musicians, we're collaborative people and we wear our hearts on our sleeves and we're very sensitive about our art,” Thando muses.
She added: “I kept saying ‘I don't want to battle’” ahead of her performance with eliminated contestant Shaun Wessel.
“When Shaun and I were battling, we definitely approached it as two musos just having a good time together. And we did, and I really enjoyed performing with him, so much so that we're definitely going to be doing it again at some point in the future.”
What did help Thando get into a competitive mindset during the battle rounds was her coach Keith Urban who helped “coax out that competitive spirit” while also gently luring the singer out of her comfort zone.
“[Keith] was a really great match for a coach for me because he would be able to sort of see me in a different way to how I'd always been perceived,” Thando says.
“I came into the show as a soul and R&B singer and I feel like I've sort of had this evolution into a pop singer, which I just never imagined in a million years would ever be a thing for me. And I think it's because I just really underestimated how difficult it is to actually sing pop music until I got to doing Chandelier."
WATCH: Thando Sikwila Sings I'm Every Woman on The Voice (Article continues after video)
She continues: “He believed that I could do that, which is why he keeps throwing curve balls every step of the way. He’s amazing.”
Whether or not she wins The Voice, Thando has big plans for her future – starting with a performance at Adelaide’s Cabaret Festival alongside one of her key inspirations, Tina Arena.
“When I got the call for that, I was actually just like, ‘what is life right now?,’ she gushes to New Idea. “Tina Arena knows about me and has asked me to be a part of this show; that's a huge deal and I'm so incredibly honoured and it's just another one of those things that sort of affirms me and lets me know that this dream is very much being lived.
“I'm just super grateful to have had the chance to share my voice with the country and I'm really looking forward to whatever the future holds,” she adds. “I will proudly represent Australia in every opportunity that I get.”