SINGING sensation Ilisavani Cava is off to bootcamp. Well, not just any bootcamp - the X-Factor (Australia) bootcamp. Mind you, only successful auditionees make it through to this stage of the competition and its not easy.
Who can forget Fijis affable chameleon and winner of Vodafone Make It Count: Season Two winner, Ilisavani Cava. He blew us away with several renditions by famous artists like Beyonce and came out with his own songs like Hey Little Girl and All for Love, each proving to be popular on the airwaves at some point.
This time around, a simple holiday trip turned out to be his biggest break into the world of entertainment and music.
Speaking to The Sunday Times from Sydney, Australia, the 19-year old juggled a couple of setbacks when he arrived for day one of auditions.
"When I went on day one, the numbers were out so I told myself I'd come back the next day. I was really blessed to be there on time to receive the last number. The competitors I saw during the first audition were mind blowing," said the young lad from Naivilaca, Noco in Rewa, whose mother is a Hazelman from Rava estate in Savusavu.
"Everyone was talented and to even see that amount of talents pursuing their dreams and using what God has given them is really moving for me - it really opened my eyes to see the bigger picture.
"During my first audition, I sang Someone Like You by Adele because Id say at one point in peoples life, they can relate to that song. For me, that was one of the best cover songs I love performing everywhere I go.
"The lyrics are so powerful and it just has that emotion that cannot be described. You have to listen to the song to know what I mean."
Auditions were hectic having to go through four rooms before reaching an audience with the executive producers.
Its not a sure shot to the top after impressing the judges. Ilisavani says if youre successful, you book a spot on the waiting list for live auditions one month later.
"There were no comments on my performance when I made it to the executive producers who were in the last room. There were five of them and the first comment I got was Is that you really singing? Are you sure you dont have a recorder playing?
"I was scared when I heard that. They told me to sing another number to prove that it was really my voice so I sang Beyonces version of Ave Maria, still no comment after I sang that.
"Then to be absolutely sure, they told me to sing another number so I sang Bruno Mars Just the Way You Are. They got that it was my voice and they all said Thank you.
The morning of the live audition which was one month and two days after the last audition, I woke up at 5am. I kept asking myself is this really going to happen? Am I really doing this?
The one thing in my heart was my mum, getting up that morning, seeing my cousin prepare my clothes, I just wished she (mum) would have been here for that special moment for me.
It was really hard for me cause back home, Im used to her doing my clothes, waking me up, going with me to my gigs and make sure all goes well. But I know its true that she may not be with me and all Ive got to do is my part.
I say this all the time never forget where you came from, never forget what you came for. Being backstage, seeing cameras on you, big lights, the sound of 10,000 people - it was amazing, the best feeling ever and knowing this was the moment and its really happening made me feel blessed.
As if that experience wasnt enough to make him pinch himself several times, Ilisavani found himself face-to-face with international artists like Australian Idol 2003 winner Guy Sebastian, Ronan Keating from the 1994 band Boyzone, former Spice Girl Mel B and Natalie Bassingthwaighte as judges for the reality music competition.
Ive always watched them on television, read about them in magazines and to see them in reality is just amazing, he said.
The first thing I did after the live audition was pray backstage after receiving great comments from the judges and a hug from Mel B. I made Natalie cry during my performance and having Ronan say You have a God-gifted talent, call your folks back at home and tell them youre not coming back to Fiji was really exciting and overwhelming for me.
"The first audition was in February which was in front of the executives then the live auditions which were on May 17. I've made it through those two and now Im off to bootcamp!
"I would describe this whole experience as tough. My competitors are amazing. I'd say everyone is different in their own styles, notes, keys and I've learnt a lot from just being around them.
Support has never stopped pouring in from his family, friends and colleagues in Fiji, especially vude queen Laisa Vulakoro who Ilisavani describes as his source of style inspiration and one his many idols on a pedestal next to Beyonce and Adele.
Vulakoro flew to Australia to support Ilisavani during his auditions and has been by his side since day one.
"I've always dreamed I would make it one day to this big platform. Im happy to have reached this level. Knowing that Im the first Fijian to come all the way from Viti to do this for m family and my country and most of all myself, is really amazing," he said.
"The Fijian support in Australia is overwhelming. I've been invited to sing for some charity events like a flood appeal. I was really honoured to be part of that and to see Fijians get-together made me miss home even more.
"Right now, the next thing I want to do is see my beloved mother and the family. I just miss them and its been really hard being the youngest in the family to be in a big world alone and not having them beside me - but it's all good as the saying from my village goes 'Qai qo na qai ga'. At the moment, Im living with my first cousin and her husband. I'm really grateful for their love and support."
While Ilisavani's biggest challenge is yet to come, he's certainly has the rest of Fiji backing him in his bid to become the next big thing from our tiny Pacific island.