Elvis Blue is one of South Africa’s best

In South Africa, Elvis Blue needs no introduction. But for the benefit of everyone from other countries, Elvis Blue is a legendary South African singer. He’s the winner of Idols 2010, but he’s much more than that.   Elvis Blue shared his prize money with the other finalist Lloyd Cele, and in that moment he cemented himself a place in the hearts of South Africans – and did more to unite a country with a very divided past in one moment than some politicians have done in 20 years. 

Subsequently he did it once again with his stunning production of the Afrikaans translation of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika together with another South African great Coenie de VilliersSeengebed. He is in my mind one of South Africa’s greatest sons and in keeping with this it makes me incredibly proud to bring this interview to you. 

I want to say a big thank you to both Elvis and his assistant Kona for assisting and conducting and preparing this interview for me to publish. It would not have been possible without you. You guys rule! 

I’ve loved Elvis since this beautiful moment. Just a guy standing there with his guitar making the most peaceful music you ever heard: 

Talk me through your range of emotions singing that song to that group of judges? (I’ve watched it over and over and it just gets better and better!) 

I’d sung that song thousands of times up to then. I remember being a street musician and playing that song over and over again because I loved it so much. I never had THAT reaction though, and that is the thing that made this day special. Something happened….it’s almost like there was something in the air that had changed. I felt as much a spectator as the judges did.

When you were announced the winner, it  seemed like an interminable moment before they called your name .What’s it like to stand for so long and then be announced the winner? And you split the prize, which cemented an already established fandom for me 🙂 are you still in touch with Lloyd, possibly a chance of a collaboration between the two of you? 

Elvis Blue and Lloyd Cele 2010 South African Idols finalists
Source: http://teeveetee.blogspot.com/

I had done 5 albums before I did Idols, and none of them sold particularly well. Standing there made me feel as if all those disappointments were worthwhile. Lloyd and I shared the money because we had made a deal. We collaborated on my first album and we are still in touch today. Who knows what the future holds.

Tell me more about little Elvis who inspired your name? (Elvis’s real name is Jan Hoogendyk. He took the name Elvis Blue as a tribute to an 11-year-old friend with the same name who passed away from HIV/Aids complications in 2009). Is there a trust or anything like that that people can donate to in his name? or maybe some way that we can remember him? 

Source: http://bethesda-home.org/

There are so many places that you can get involved with to make a difference to someone like Elvis. He was in a children’s home here in George called Bethesda. But wherever you are in South Africa, I can assure you, you don’t have to search very far to find some sort of hospice or childrens’ home, or a place where you can make a difference.

Idols 2010 was four years ago. Not all the Idols winners manage to sustain their popularity but you I think are going from strength to strength and deservedly so!  What have been some of the highlights (and lowlights I guess) in the time since Idols?

Let me mention the highlights: Album sales, the 3 Sama awards, touring and supporting with James Blunt, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Without sounding completely cheesy, the biggest highlight is simply being able to do what I love every day.

It’s also not everyone who can appeal to both the English and the Afrikaans market. I certainly think you do (and I love that you post your social media in both languages) (sorry that this is in English!) Do you have any preferences as to which language you prefer to sing in and also do you have influences you can name from both English and Afrikaans? (probably safe to say I’m hearing some Bob Dylan in there?) 

I would probably sing in Zulu if I could speak it. We are very lucky as South Africans to have so many flavours in our country. I make a point of listening to a large variety of music in both English and Afrikaans…..and Zulu.

I love all your songs and I SUPERLOVE Seengebed!! I think you did more to unite the country with that one song than many people did in 20 years. Please walk me through the inspiration and reasons for doing an Afrikaans Nkosi Sikelela? 

Thank you so much. I did that song with an Afrikaans icon – Coenie de Villiers, the first time. So many people don’t actually know the meanings of the words when they sing it. Growing up I also heard many people complain about the song, and I must say I got kind of sick of it. I realised it was because people didn’t know how beautiful the words where. That is why I recorded it in Afrikaans, so that people would know the meaning of the words. Our song is beautiful and I wanted people to know that.

The premise of my blog is the fact that all artists, musicians, authors, etc have the power to tweak the golden thread of humanity. By your music you have the ability to touch the consciousness of humanity – it goes over generations, countries, races.  Is this something that you think about? You really seem to sing from the heart! 

Why do people listen to music? There are probably many different reasons. I listen because it makes me feel and think. Sometimes it can be something jovial or joyous. Other times it can be more intense. I am sure all artists who make music think about those things, but more often than not we are kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel and you are just trying to make something sound beautiful. Sometimes just writing one song is difficult, and all I am trying to do is finish the song.

I love the way that you work with social media. You’ve embraced it in such an awesome way, and you currently have a campaign with #toeonsjonkwas (When We Were Young) by which you’re creating a lekker feeling of nostalgia among all your followers! Are you planning something with the photos people have sent or something big with Toe Ons Jonk Was? 

Elvis Blue – Toe Ons Jonk Was
Source – Elvis Blue Facebook page

Ja. I think the biggest thing with the campaign is just that social media platforms are for everyone using it, not necessarily for me to use it. The idea with the campaign is for people to share their pictures with other people.

Check the album out here:

What lies in the future for Elvis Blue

To keep doing what I am doing right now. There are big dreams and plans that I still have. But making music and doing what I’m doing now is the biggest one. We will have to see what happens in the future
Is there anything you’d like to add to this? 

Just thank you.

Actually, I think I need to say thank YOU – posts like this reiterate to me again the strength of the internet in being able to connect with and spread the message of people who make the world a better place. 

Elvis Blue will be performing at the Alberton Civic Centre on 23 September 2014. Get your tickets here.

Follow Elvis on Facebook  here and on Twitter here and check his website here
Get social!


Writer, transcriber, proofreader, editor, lover of the arts.

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