Godfrey Talks ‘Shadow of Brel’

He has contributed immensely to some of the most illuminating interviews that Urban Craft magazine has shared over the last couple of mon...

He has contributed immensely to some of the most illuminating interviews that Urban Craft magazine has shared over the last couple of months, but this time around we managed to reverse the roles and put our own and South African cabaret singer, Godfrey Johnson in the hot sit. In the aftermath of his recent success with the Jacques Brel tribute, we sought to find out a bit more from Godfrey (G.J) in regards to the inspiration behind the project, how it all came together and what else we can expect from him given the overwhelming reception that this particular project has gotten in these last couple of weeks.

What was the official release date for the 'Seasons in the Sun' track and what made you decide upon this particular track from Brel?

GJ : I didn’t really release it in a ‘traditional way’. People who saw the show started requesting copies to take home and so we thought we should record the show. We went into the studio and recreated the live performance for cd.

How has the response from music lovers and audiences alike been thus far in regards to 'Seasons in the Sun track itself'?

GJ : People seem to like it. It is a song that has been recorded by various artists over the years, I think the most recent being ‘Westlife’. I enjoy deconstructing songs and music and finding the essence that I can truly resonate with. The song is a list of a man’s dying wishes as he sings to those dearest to him. To answer the question, there were a few tears shed in the audience during the performance.

For the benefit of our readership, would you mind giving us an idea of what the 'Shadow of Brel' project is and just how far you've gone in terms of its preparation?

GJ : I have always been drawn to the genius of Jacques Brel and I always wanted to do a show celebrating his genius. I approached the great director Sanjin Muftic and he helped me create a theatrical structure which turned the usual tribute show into a three act play with music. Together with Jon Keevy we made a lovely theatrical cabaret.

What is it about Brel that made you want to embark on this particular project? 

GJ : The rawness and honesty of his writing allows the performer to explore every little bit of emotion.  He can write about the most sordid and depressing things but there is always a twinkle in his eye and a string satirical tongue in his cheek

We heard you mention that you were making another CD of his songs' soon. Would you mind elaborating more on that, giving us the title and an idea of what to expect? 

GJ : I will be recording some songs that I have not yet performed. 

What are some of the all-time classics from Brel that we can expect when this particular project comes to life?

GJ : Some of the new songs will be, ‘The Desperate Ones’,’I Loved’ and ‘The Old Folks’. I will be re-recording ‘Seasons in the Sun’ and ‘If We Only Have Love.’

Apart from the aforementioned, what else are you working on for the remainder of 2019?

GJ : I am currently writing a play about the composer Benjamin Britten. I am hoping to do VASLAV again later in the year. My main focus right now is a tour around the Cape with a fun crazy show, ‘PIANOMANIA’ a two piano extravaganza that I perform with Nicholas McDiarmid. 


Image credits :  Philip De Vos



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Urban Craft Magazine: Godfrey Talks ‘Shadow of Brel’
Godfrey Talks ‘Shadow of Brel’
Urban Craft Magazine
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