Afrikaans soprano Belia Lourens’s latest album pays tribute to one of Afrikaans music’s greats. Containing a classic collection of Janita Claassen songs, BELIA SING JANITA CLAASSEN offers a fresh approach to familiar songs and is sure to appeal to fans of both incredible artists.
“I wanted to pay tribute to Janita Claassen as she was an exceptional person who could communicate openly and honestly through her music. I didn’t want that to get lost – I wanted to revive and relive it,” says the singer about her decision to record the album, which was seven months in the making. “I chose these particular songs because they are emotive and touch every aspect of our lives. They are everyday songs about the things that matter.”
The album is a mix of memorable and sentimental songs, including ten Janita Claassen hits, two Belia bonuses and one classical track. “The music simply speaks to you and as the songs are quite nostalgic, I believe people will enjoy it. I hope that listeners will be touched by the songs and that the messages will resonate with them.”
While each song was specially selected, Belia does have a few favourite tracks. “I love ‘Reëndruppels’ as I can visualise people revelling in the rain and being grateful for every drop that falls, while ‘Hardloop my Kind’ is a tribute to every child about the enter adulthood. Likewise, ‘Oorwinter’ is for every child living abroad, while ‘Lied vir Ma’ is especially for my mom.”
Despite being an incredible opportunity, working on the album was not without its challenges. “Perhaps the biggest challenge of all was to sound like Belia while paying tribute to Janita,” the singer admits.
The classical South African singer from Porterville in the Western Cape describes herself as a late bloomer. Despite growing up in a musical household, she only started studying music at the age of 34 and completed her training at the Stellenbosch Conservatorium. She has been involved in the music industry for more than two decades.
During that time the industry has taught her several valuable lessons, including that it takes hard work to be sustainable. “Singing is my breath; it is not something I can do for just one season of my life. So, I have learnt that I can’t allow fluctuations in the music industry to influence me. Music is a magical language and someone, somewhere will agree with a note or two.”
Another great challenge, says Belia, has been to believe. “At night, it is just you and your creative thoughts. To realise your dreams takes blind faith – you must get up every day, start fresh and look forward.”
She shares two events that truly stood out in her career. “My first performance at Aardklop was early in the morning. The terrain was deserted; the only people around were those visiting the exhibitors. I stood in front of rows of white chairs while the technicians tuned the sound to my voice. By my second song the white chairs had turned into people. People heard me and they came.
“I also had to perform on the RSG stage at the KKNK during what was overwhelmingly a pop era. I had to perform ‘Kom Dans Klaradyn’, with my light classical approach, and was petrified that people would get up and leave. But as I sang the empty spaces started filling up. That day I learned a few things: Believe in what you do and convey it to the best of your ability; there is room for all genres; and be who you are – no one can sing like anyone else.”
The singer often performs at women’s events with her solo production, ’n Skatkis vol juwele. She was also Manuel Escorcio’s singing partner for four years, during which the duo performed their show, Sy en Satyn, more than 200 times.
Belia’s dreams for the future include being able to perform not only in South Africa, but also for South Africans in other countries, as well as for the Belgians. She would also love to collaborate with Jo Black. “Admittedly, it would be a bit outside the box, but I think our voices could produce something very interesting together. I like his outlook on life.”
It seems that for the singer, who has already released a number of albums, including Kom dans Klaradyn, Leef met my eie liedjies, and Die Kroon van die Skepping, and who has raked in a number of award nominations, the sky is the limit.
Belia concludes: “Music is the sum of my existence. It is obedience to God’s command.”
ALBUM TRACK LIST
- Hardloop my kind
- Lied vir ma
- Wie sal weet
- Hoor jy die klokke
- Wiegel Waggel
- As die engele huil
- In Afrika
- Don’t cry for me Argentina
The album is available on all digital platforms here: ditto.fm/singjanitaclaassen