It has been said that no one covers Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah like Rufus Wainwright. That was of course until Elvis Blue came along. His soulful rendition of the Cohen standard elicits a wave of emotion from even the most stoic listener. But, what the world has begun to realise is that Elvis Blue resonates with a creative force that transcends any cover version – no matter how great the song is.
One simply has to listen to the hauntingly beautiful Things My Father Said or Lighthouse or Save Me, or any of his original compositions for that matter, to realise that you are in the company of greatness. Balance this divine gift with great humility, a kind heart and the work ethic of Henry Ford and you begin to understand the soul within this artist.
The gifted musician’s journey started when he was a young boy, singing in school choirs, and busking in the streets of Joburg and Scotland. His one and only goal was to make and perform music. After a stint overseas as a street musician, Elvis returned to South Africa where he decided to study contemporary music.
After appearing in numerous bands Elvis started a project where he sang under the name MONO. He released three albums under this time. When MONO’s record deal came to an end, Elvis decided that he would move to George where he would become a music teacher, write his own music, and live a quiet life.
After spending some time in George, Elvis was approached by a record company who wanted him to record an Afrikaans album. “The first album I did was under the name Jan Hoogendyk, my real name, and the album did really well. It won an ATKV Lier Toekening award. His second Afrikaans album, Ontskemer also under the name Jan Hoogendyk, was nominated for a 2010 SAMA Award.
While living in George he met the friend whose name he would adopt in 2008. “My wife works at an organisation that is a hospice and children’s home and I met this little boy there when I used to go and play my guitar for them. He really wanted to be a keyboard player, and his name was Elvis Blaauw”, he says. When he passed away in 2009, as a tribute to this amazing young man, Jan Hoogendyk adopted his name and Elvis Blue was born.
In 2010, Elvis Blue won the title of Mnet Idol for that year – sharing half the profit with runner up Lloyd Cele.
Elvis Blue released the album that would change his life as a musician and consolidate all his years of hard work. This album was simply titled Elvis Blue. On the album’s release in November 2010, it shot up the radio and sales charts and reached Gold status. The first two singles Things My Father said and Lighthouse were massive hits, and with the third single, Save Me, is currently on playlists across the country.
Since the release of his album, Elvis has set himself apart as an exceptional performer of live music, using some of the best local musicians to round out his band on stage, insisting on delivering music with depth to audiences across the country. Elvis is also a dedicated husband and father besides being a world class musician and a household name in South Arica.
The success Elvis Blue over the past few years enabled himself to invest in something very near and dear to his heart – The Elvis Blue Music Academy. The Academy was started by Elvis to teach underprivileged children the joy of music. The organisation provides instruments and instruction in a safe, warm environment. “Music has the ability to heal,” Elvis says. “This venture is living proof of that.” The Elvis Blue Music Academy operates in the Western Cape, George and is rolling out in Alexandra in Gauteng in the near future.
Elvis’ success is due to years of hard work, passion and commitment, and even though the path has been long and sometimes never ending, the real journey has only begun now.
There is a lingering feeling of awe when you meet this humble artist. True talent begets respect and admiration. And that’s exactly why Elvis Blue has our country at his feet.
Elvis Blue, the musician
When Elvis Blue performs live, he ‘puts the colour back into your world……’
Elvis Blue is a musician with a dream; a man with a melodic goal; and a talented performer with an overwhelming desire to make music that matters. This is evident in the lyrics of his first single, Things My Father Said - “If you have a dream you better hold on for dear life”.
In the spirit of this, Elvis Blue will be hosting an intimate ‘live’ performance with his band at The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City on Saturday June 25th.
The intuitive musician released his debut album, simply titled Elvis Blue, through Universal Records in December 2010. The album went gold within 29 days of its release, proving that meaningful music, such as this, has its place in the South African market. Since the album’s release, the singles Things My Father Said and Lighthouse have been played on radio stations across the country, allowing it to reach a wide cultural cross-section of fans, which has turned the album into a mammoth hit. The latest single, Save Me, is currently on playlists across the country and gaining airplay quickly.
Elvis Blue is a songwriter; a musician (he plays guitar and piano) and an adult contemporary artist that provides a different side to him in his live shows – he often engages top local musicians to play live with him, insisting on a more intimate and personal experience of his music and lyrics.
“If I am an influence in any way to my audience, I hope that it allows people to look at me and see someone who truly enjoys and loves music. Whether you make it or not, it’s who I am, and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day. If you have that gift to make music, it’s a wonderful privilege and you should cherish it,” he says.
Committed to offering audiences a meaningful experience of his music, Elvis Blue will be hosting an intimate show at The Lyric Theatre on the 25th of June at 20:30.
Tickets cost R75 and bookings can be made through The Globe Theatre Box Office on 011 248 5000 or through Computicket or visit www.goldreefcity.co.za for more information.
Visit Elvis Blue’s official site: www.elvisblue.co.za or his facebook and twitter pages – Elvis Blue.