There’s something about the way that Lynelle Kenned constantly transforms — through the performing arts and her life — that is chameleon-like. It is swift, effortless, magical. But it’s her most recent manifestation that offers a new, important power in our suddenly mad world. The acclaimed opera singer has turned her attention to death companioning.
To hear Kenned sing is to be transfixed and amazed. Yet — and rather appropriately, given her recent branching out into pastoral care — at one point, the opera singer, musical-theatre performer, MC, actress, and TV presenter was destined for a career in medicine.
At the precipice of making her decision, the Paarl native had a date with fate when she went to see the Cape Town Opera’s production of Showboat. “I was 17 when I noticed [opera] for the first time as something that I wanted to pursue. Classical music was always part of what my family listened to, what I was exposed to. I just never took [opera] seriously before it started looking like a viable career option.”
It was while honing her opera skills at the University of Cape Town’s South African College of Music that Kenned made her first career divergence. In 2012 she entered a TV presenter search for the popular programme Top Billing. She may have finished as a runner-up but she still managed to tick off a bucket-list item: performing live with world-famous mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins during one of the segments.
In 2013 she was offered the opportunity to “start from the bottom up again” and join a David Kramer production, which meant learning new skills in musical theatre. Since then, she has gone on to perform in a number of successful productions, including as the lead, Maria, in West Side Story. Over the past few years, she has continued exploring the arts, taking on film roles and MC duties at corporate events.