Johannes Kerkorrel

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Johannes Kerkorrel
Birth nameRalph John Rabie
Born27 March 1960
Johannesburg, South Africa
Died12 November 2002(2002-11-12) (aged 42)
Kleinmond, near Cape Town,
South Africa
Years active1986–2002

Johannes Kerkorrel (27 March 1960 – 12 November 2002), born Ralph John Rabie, was a South African singer-songwriter, journalist and playwright. [1] [2]

Contents

Career

Rabie, who was born in Johannesburg, worked as a journalist for the Afrikaans newspapers Die Burger and Rapport . [3] In 1986, Rabie started performing politically themed cabaret at arts festivals under his new stage name (kerkorrel meaning church organ in Afrikaans). At that time, apartheid was at its nadir under State President P.W. Botha's National Party-led government.

In 1987, Rabie was fired by Rapport for using quotes from Botha's speeches in his music; he then became a full-time musician and performer under the name Johannes Kerkorrel en die Gereformeerde Blues Band (Johannes Kerkorrel and the Reformed Blues Band), a deliberate reference to the Reformed Church. The band also included the Afrikaans singer-songwriter Koos Kombuis. Their brand of new Afrikaans music was dubbed alternatiewe Afrikaans (alternative Afrikaans) and exposed divergent political views to a new generation of Afrikaners. [1] [2]

In 1985, they released the album Eet Kreef (Eat Crayfish) on the now-defunct Shifty Records label, which was a commercial success despite its tracks being banned from radio airplay by the state-controlled South African Broadcasting Corporation, which was the government mouthpiece. Colloquially, 'Eet Kreef' is ambiguous, meaning either 'Enjoy!' or 'Get lost!'. The subsequent regional tour of college campuses and art festivals was called Voëlvry (literally free as a bird but here meaning outlawed), and Rabie's controversial reinvention of Afrikaans popular music became known as the Voëlvry movement . [1] [2]

In 1990, Rabie visited Amsterdam, and almost simultaneously the track "Hillbrow" from the Eet Kreef album became a hit in Belgium, and Rabie followed its success with a solo tour. In subsequent years he enjoyed substantial artistic success in Belgium and the Netherlands, and spent much of his time in Belgium. Here he also befriended Stef Bos, a Dutch cabaret artist, with whom he would share a number of concerts. [1] [2]

Death

Rabie hanged himself on 12 November 2002 in Kleinmond, near Hermanus on the Western Cape coast on a tree that is alien to South Africa. He was survived by his long-term partner, and by his ex-wife and son. [4] [5] [6] [7]

The South African singer songwriter Valiant Swart wrote the song "Sonvanger" dedicated to the artist with Kerkorrel's mother Anne in mind, longing for her lost son.

Awards

Discography

Tributes

After Rabie's death, several artists recorded tribute songs to his life and work. An incomplete list follows:

Covers

Rabie is a much covered artist. Among the cover versions that exist are:

Legacy

The film Johnny is nie dood nie portrays a fictional group of friends meeting up after his suicide, looking back to the events leading up to the Voëlvry movement, and how his music inspired and influenced them. [13] [14]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "'Dylan' of Afrikaans rock dies". SouthAfrica.info. 13 November 2002. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Sassen, Robyn (15 January 2003). "Just Another Day in Africa: In no-man's land I got lost". PopMatters.com . Retrieved 13 November 2007.
  3. Allan, Jani. Afrikaner pride and passion mix with fun and laughter Sunday Times (South Africa). 9 July 1989
  4. Redelinghuys, Pieter (12 November 2002). "Kerkorrel commits suicide". News24. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  5. "Remembering Kerkorrel". Mail & Guardian. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  6. Rooi, Jacob (17 November 2002). "'I'm sorry mom'". Rapport. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  7. "'Who killed Kerkorrel?'". News24. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  8. "The long road ahead". Mail & Guardian. 2 May 1997. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  9. Malan, Mariana (6 November 2001). "First Geraas award ceremony". Die Burger Wes. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  10. "Music veterans to be honoured at SA Music Awards". Mail & Guardian. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2013. Kerkorrel was a prominent icon of the alternative Afrikaans music scene and a significant player in the vibrant 'Voëlvry' cultural movement. The Voëlvry movement was the 'Boere Beatlemania' of the late 1980s, whose main proponents sported undeniably kitsch names like Koos Kombuis and Johannes Kerkorrel. But far from being incidental, this eccentric bunch of young Afrikaans artists became the voice of their generation when South Africa was pushed to the brink of collapse by apartheid. Under the Voëlvry banner, their goal was the emancipation of Afrikaner youth from the strictures of their authoritarian, patriarchal culture – to make it cool to be Afrikaans. Kerkorrel's life has been celebrated in a wave of tributes following his untimely death at the age of 42 in 2002.
  11. Leonard, Charles (10 May 2013). "Johannes Kerkorrel: The wise fool who left the fray". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  12. "Die 10-jaar herdenking van Johannes Kerkorrel se dood". ja.fm. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  13. SMITH, THERESA (4 May 2017). "Review: 'Johnny is nie dood nie'". WeekendSpecial. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  14. Zietsman, Gabi (5 May 2017). "Johnny is nie dood nie". Channel24. Retrieved 23 October 2017.

Further reading