Girl Power

Only one female musician, Tonia Selley, was included on the Voëlvry tour. The media criticised the dearth of female participants and talented singer songwriter, Jennifer Ferguson was quoted as saying that, “The Voëlvry tour is all about big cock rock”.

Selley used the alias Karla Krimpelien and provided background vocals for the Gereformeerde Blues Band. Tonia Selley later married Willem Möller, who played guitar in the band.

After the Gereformeerde Blues Band broke up, Tonia Selley went on to have a successful solo career. She was a member of The Pressure Cookies, whose record “Sex” is considered to be a classic South African rock song.

Although female musicians were conspicuously absent from the tour, Johannes Kerkorrel and the Gereformeerde Blues Band had a massive influence on the next generation of Afrikaans musicians.

In particular rocker Karen Zoid (who it could be argued is South Africa’s Joan Jett) acknowledged the influence that Kerkorrel had on her career.  Zoid wrote a song about Kerkorrel, entitled “Foto teen die muur” (Photo on the wall), on her 2003 album “Chasing the Sun” . In the song Zoid sang “Ons helde hang aan bome” (Our heroes hang on trees) and she also sampled a few notes from Kerkorrel’s iconic song “Hillbrow” in the tune.

Read more about Karen Zoid at her official website Karen Zoid

Tonia Selley Voëlvry Karla Krimpelien

  1 comment for “Girl Power

  1. July 31, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    I met Ralph for the first time when I entered a strange music competition run by the ATKV?? I think. It was held at the SABC round 1976.
    As the townships were on fire us white kids were being invited to showcase our talent.
    I was 16 and wet with my then first boyfriend, the boy who’s life is celebrated in the song ‘Letters to Dickie.’
    Anyways it was a strange affair. I played the piano and sang, and I met this very friendly slightly gawky young man from Potch, with his then wife, An.
    He was very open and enthusiastic, with his head kind of bent to one side, a mannerism that made him seem humble almost self-effacing. Neither of us won anything, but he made an impression on me.
    We would meet later on, again in Cape Town, via Irna van Zyl, then journalist for Beeld and a good friend. Later in Grahamstown, when i was part of the UCT student production 1789. Imoved to Joburg and, Ralph would often be at my shows, both cabaret and theatre.
    I had written a song ‘Hillbrow’ for a musical called ‘Eden and Other Places’ at the Market Theatre, in collaboration with Barney Simon, Victor Ntoni, Paul Hanmer and Thembi Mtshali. I remember Barney and I driving past midnite through Hillbrow getting the exact location names etc for the song.
    (to add: I had worked in Hillbrow over two years at Club 58 in Pretoria Street; 58 two, and of course the Black Sun, which was in Berea. There Megan Kruskal and I, with help from Barney and Lourens Cilliers put on a cabaret called ‘Kentucky Fried Chickies.’ It was completely outrageous, a combination of sex-trash, political subversion and Fellini- fantasy, all original material. It served as a pre-cursor for ‘Famous dead man, he’ll fuck you up ‘ ( Matthew Crouse and Robert Coleman) which followed ours and was banned due to the reference to Verwoerd.)
    Ralph attended many of my performances and especially after the ‘Eden’ show came and enthused about it afterwards. A short time later, I heard he too had written a song about Hillbrow. I like to think my song inspired him..and there are a few similarities. I have never recorded my song, it was too long! 7 mins and flying! The Afrikaans Cabaret you saw with Ralph and Irna and Christo Leach etc at the Black Sun was part of a sequence of work that was playing itself out as Protest in Joburg. I think we all were influenced and inspired by each other.

    I spent some time in the Cape with Ralph after my son, Ralph Black Ferguson, was born..round 1992/3. I have a beautiful photo of little Ralph on big Ralph’s lap, under a washing line in Stephanie van der Heever’s back yard. Both ‘boys’ are bare chested, and there is a real tenderness between them.
    I think it couldn’t have been easy to be a father for Ralph, so young, and still such a big journey to do on himself.

    Ralph was a complex man. Easy to love and be seduced by, and also struggling with a massive self-consciousness that comes with the fame and hype of a world that sees you as ‘special.’
    I felt Ralph was doing a disservice to himself and his audience and the times themselves, by not coming out. I can understand the social implications of it etc etc. but it felt like he was living a lie, and I think the strain of that dual-identity took its toll on him.
    As did the lifestyle.
    The last time I saw Ralph was at the Klein Karoo festival in 2001. He came to see my show ‘Baie Levendig in die Klein Karoo’ for which I got best female artist. he was very moved by the work. He came backstage, and he was weeping. We just held each other and it felt like a lot of the old tension, for me at least, dissolved and there was a real tenderness.
    He was always deeply respectful of my work, and I like to think that it nourished him on a deeper level.
    He was a ‘klein boetie’ to me, in a way.
    I wish we had had more soft, simple, ordinary time together.

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