LIVING THE DREAM
WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPH Melanie Maré
MULTI-AWARD-WINNING musician, songwriter and singer Elvis Blue continues to live the dream, making a living from music and calling the Garden Route home’.
Jan Hoogendyk, aka Elvis Blue, makes time for South during his holiday at home in George. He is sweet to my kids and makes me coffee. At the kitchen table he tells me he is still living the dream.
“We returned to Johannesburg for a short while after I won Idols South Africa because we thought I needed to be there to make the most of the opportunities the competition afforded me. It soon became clear that it did not matter from where I operated, because I was travelling most of the time anyway, but it did matter where my family was based. With my wife and kids in George, I can travel the country and know that they are safe and happy.”
Realistic about the fickleness of the music industry, Jan hoped but could not foresee that his career would still be soaring six years after his win in 2010. It was, after all, not his first time in the game – he had recorded four previous albums before Idols, one of which won an ATKV Lier award and another received a South African Music Awards nomination. It did not, however, earn him a living, which is why he entered Idols in 2010.
Considered one of the most successful South African Idols winners ever, he released the album, Elvis Blue, only 29 days after his win. The album went gold in two weeks and platinum not long after.
Since then, Jan has released four more albums, with another coming out in May. He has been nominated in 25 categories, and won 12 national music awards for these, including best Adult Contemporary Album for Elvis Blue and Journey during the 2012 and 2013 South African Music Awards (SAMA), and six Ghoema Awards (2016) for Êrens in die middel van nêrens.
Optics, released in June last year, is also expected to do well during awards season, with songs Shine, and particularly The Tide, attracting wide appeal and attention. The Tide introduced a fresh sound but with the same essence. “Sometimes, your sound must change so as not to become boring, but the heart of it remains the same. Music, for me, is about what you say and how it makes you feel. I want my listeners to make an emotional connection when they hear my songs.”
He considers himself lucky to be one of only a few artists who have successfully straddled the English, Afrikaans, and Christian contemporary music markets. “There is so much diversity in the modern Afrikaans market, which offers so many opportunities. Fortunately, Afrikaans speaking people also enjoy English music.”
Jan is a prolific songwriter, for whom the music comes easy. “I write music every day. It’s not always equally good, of course, but it is always there. It is my dream to leave a legacy, a body of music for others to enjoy and explore.”
As one of the hardest working musicians in the country, with more than 130 shows a year, Jan spends a lot of time with his band in a car. “We drive the country flat, taking turns behind the wheel. It remains my goal to have as many people as possible hear my music, so we must take it to them.”
His Garden Route home is a true sanctuary, where his routine revolves around his family – wife Chireze and daughters Lila, aged seven, and Jua, three. “I start my day with a surf at Victoria Bay before dropping off my girls at school and play school. I spend the mornings working on my music, but take the afternoons off to spend time with my family. Break-away time is a round of golf, which is another thing the Garden Route is unsurpassed for.”
This year sees the release of Die Brug (The Bridge) in May. He will be travelling to The Netherlands later this year to explore his Dutch roots – and entertaining crowds in their home language.
“I sometimes look back and can’t believe how much my life has changed in some ways and yet remained the same in others. I still enjoy meeting new people and love sharing my stories and songs with them. I still come home to George and a lovely family. I am still living the dream.”
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