Lorraine Klaasen


Let's steal Lorraine being interviewed a few moments before the show to get better acquainted with the dynamic Lorraine.

Chatting with Lorraine

Catch a Rising Star (borrowed from one of the quotes)

Q: Lorraine can you tell us what influenced you to make music your career?

A: Growing up in South Africa in a musical household has greatly influenced me. As you know my mother Tandie Klaasen is called the Ella Fitzgerald of South Africa. She is also Nelson Mandela's favorite jazz singer. She had a great impact on my career. I think my daughters, Lydia & Jessica, being brought up in a musical household, have also been influenced by my music. I often wonder whether they will make a career in the music field, but I have never imposed that on them, just as my mom never imposed music on me. I had a passion for singing and I guess only time will tell if my daughters will follow suit. Whatever they decide, I am glad to have the opportunity to be able to share my culture. What they do is up to them.

Q: Can you tell us some of the artists you have performed with?

A: To start, my mother Tandie Klaasen, Patti LaBelle, Edith Butler, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau, Charlie Biddle, Miriam Makeba, Najee, Ray Charles, Dorothy Masuka, Kirk Whalum, Boney James, Abigail Kubeka, Oliver Stone, Sophie Mgcina, Grover Washington Jr., Edith Butler, Joauquin Diaz, Dolly Rathebe, Harold Foster, E'meline Michel, Boubacar Diabate, Paulo Ramos, Kanda Bongoman, Yves Laveile, Tania Maria, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Carol Welsman, Muna Mingole, Aldwin Albino to name just a few.

Q: Lorraine, do you ever perform solo?

A: When I first came to Canada in 1979, I started performing at Le Bijoux, a club in Old Montreal. There I did more jazz. From 1980-1986, I performed in several popular venues, all the time doing jazz related material. But in 1986 I had my African breakthrough. Early photo of Lorraine Klaasen in concertI started to incorporate African music and rhythm into my jazzy tunes, songs that were popular in South Africa like Pata Pata and click songs. That very same year, I produced my first African show called African Broadway. It had fifteen musicians and dancers. The show had rave reviews from our local newspapers such as THE GAZETTE and LA PRESSE. That same year, I had my first international invitation to Holland to participate in the "African Mama Festival". There I shared the billing with African Mama songstress Miriam Makeba, Manu Didbango, OK Jazz and Franco from Zaire. At that very same festival in Holland, I did my first recording "Soweto Groove".

Q: Isn't that the name of your band?

A: Yes, the same musicians that performed with me in the making of my first record are still with me today. So they have been with me for fifteen years. Since then I have produced two CD's "Free At Last" and "African Connexion". While in Canada, I participated in several festivals. I performed in the first African Festival in Montreal as well as the Jazz Fest. The Jazz Fest is what put me on the map and widened out my scope. Through the Montreal Jazz Festival, people that saw me perform, contacted me and requested my performance in their own locality, whether that is in another province or country. The following are some of the festivals where I performed: Montreal International Jazz Festival, Toronto Beaches Jazz Fest, Vancouver Jazz Fest, Halifax Jazz Fest, Saskatoon Jazz Fest, Winnipeg World Beat Fest, East Coast Jazz Fest, St Lucia Jazz Fest, Barbados Jazz Fest, Grenada Jazz Fest, Trinidad Festival, Congoline Fest, and Vue d'Afrique Fest.

Q: Do you go to South Africa often?

A: No I don't go as often as I would like, but when I do go home, it's like having my batteries recharged. Because of the wealth of the culture and also for me it's a good reminder of really where I came from. I get inspired whenever I return home, so that when I return to Canada, I am able to then inspire others.

Q: I understand that you have inspired numerous artists can you tell us more?

A: They think I have inspired them, as they have often told me, but I wouldn't want to take the credit as these people already had talent, they just needed exposure. It's so good to look back and realize that I was able to give them a chance to share the stage with me, and today they are flying and made good names for themselves!

Q: How do you feel about events following the release of Nelson Mandela?

A: It was a great feeling, in a sense that when someone has been imprisoned for twenty-four years for the right to have the freedom to choose where you want to live, your religion, and to have your rights as a human being; to give up his freedom so that those in South Africa could have their freedom, is really remarkable. But how our people choose to use their freedom, is irrelevant . I know I choose to inspire people through my music and culture and I will continue to do so. Because of Nelson Mandela, South African music has taken the world by storm and musicians such as Paul Simon, Sting and others have collaborated with South African musicians to show the world the richness of our culture.

Q: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Lorraine.

A: It's my pleasure, and thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Come experience an unforgettable show!