(A more extended biography is available here)
Laurika Rauch – a brief biography:
Laurika Rauch became a household name in 1979 with her first hit, Kinders van die Wind. She was one of the few prominent singers involved in the resurgence of the ‘new Afrikaans song’ in the late 70’s and early 80’s. She matriculated from the Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town and obtained her drama degree from the University of Stellenbosch in 1972. As a singer/actress she was, amongst others, a member of PACT Playwork; performed in the first Afrikaans cabaret, Met permissie gesê; was in Taubie Kushlick’s Brel-productions; in ‘Van Berlyn tot Bapsfontein’ with Jannie du Toit – and many more.
Laurika has had the opportunity to sing with several South African Symphony orchestras and in Europe she has performed with the well-known Metropole orchestra. She has performed overseas on numerous occasions in, amongst other places, Prague, London, Belgium, The Netherlands, Frankfurt, New Zealand and Australia.
She has notched up 25 solo CD’s of which many have achieved gold status or double platinum status. Her most recent CD is Gunstelinge, which includes the new version of Kyk hoe glinster die maan.
Some of her most recent awards include a Ghoema award with Loki Rothman for ‘Ringtone of the year’ for Blou, a Ghoema award for Die Reis (both in 2017), and a 2017 Bokkie lifetime achievement award, from Bok radio.
Laurika can be seen regularly on television in musical productions and videos of her songs. Several documentaries have been made of her and her work.
Some of her personal highlights are: Productions directed by Deon Opperman and Ilse van Hemert, Ons kruis paaie with Stef Bos, David Kramer, Taliep Petersen, Ray Phiri and others; Samekoms/Kopano with Vusi Mahlasela; a 2010 performance at the opening of parliament, held at the Cape Town Stadium; singing Stuur groete aan Mannetjies Roux at Loftus before a crowd of 60,000 people; Hart en See with Elvis Blue; more recently the production Blou with Loki Rothman, Afrikaans is Groot and many more.
Laurika is married to Christopher Torr, writer and composer of many of her greatest hits, such as Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux, Op Blouberg se Strand, Kyk hoe glinster die maan, Hot gates, Die Gang, Die mense op die bus, My ou Tante Koba and Stille waters. In 2011 Chris’s musical, Stuur groete aan Mannetjies Roux, was performed in four main centres to more than 50 standing ovations and sold out shows. Chris and Laurika have two children, Simon and Nina and a first grandchild!
Laurika Rauch’s music – the comprehensive catalogue – can be downloaded overseas from Itunes/Apple music and in South Africa from Itunes and streamed from Joox. Download the free app for Joox and type in ‘LaurikaRauch’ to get VIP free access for one month to all the music on Joox.
Laurika Rauch was born on the 1st of November in Pinelands, Cape Town, as the youngest child of Fritz and Rina Rauch. She has a sister, Ingrid, and a brother, Johan. Her father was public relations manager of The Old Mutual and her mother a trained social worker who also became editor of a women’s magazine, Die Huisvrou.
Laurika recalls her childhood as being busy. “I was always on the move from one eisteddfod to another. I took piano lessons from the age of five and sang in a children’s choir, called Oom Hannes Uys se Kindersangkring, for ten years. She also practised acting/speech/mimicry and elocution. She describes herself as a quiet child. She matriculated from Jan van Riebeeck High School in Cape Town. Other well known figures in the music industry who are also alumni of this school are Randall Wicomb and Johan Stemmet.
After school she studied drama at the University of Stellenbosch. Laurika remembers how she one day learnt a few guitar chords from a friend. “I immediately fell in love with the guitar. I didn’t sleep that night as I spent the whole night practising the chords of Cripple Creek, a Buffy Saint Marie song.”
The early days and Kinders van die wind
After obtaining her drama degree in 1972, she lectured Afrikaans at a training college in Cape Town. She badly wanted to go overseas and when she heard that buyers for department stores travelled overseas, she obtained work as a selector of children’s sleepwear at a well-known department store! ”I was young,” she says, “and the world was my oyster.” At the end of 1974 she traded the Cape for Gauteng (the then Transvaal) and from 1975 to 1976 worked as an actress with Pact Playwork under Robin Malan.
At the end of her two year contract, she took up part-time teaching by day and waitressing by night. It was during one of these evenings that she served Katinka Heyns and Chris Barnard at the restaurant where she worked. “Katinka just stared at me and said to her husband Chris, that I should sing and not be serving steak.” At the time Katinka was directing a TV series Phoenix & Kie. Jana Cilliers played the role of a cabaret singer in this series. At a certain stage, Jana suggested that Katinka hire Laurika to ghost her singing voice for her character. “It was a big turning point for me, being the ‘ghost’ voice of Jana Cilliers!” says Laurika.
After the release of the first episode of the 1979 series – which ran for 13 weeks – the song became an immediate hit. Suddenly it was on the Springbuck Radio and Radio 5 hit parades where it remained in the number one spot for a few weeks. This was unique for an Afrikaans song. Laurika received offers from 7 record companies and around this time she was also offered a permanent teaching post. Due to the success of Kinders van die Wind, she could choose to pursue a career in music.
Her singing career takes off: “Encore! Brel” and “Met permissie gesê”
After the success of Kinders van die wind and her Debuut-album, the singer and songwriter Anton Goosen asked her (in October 1979) to accompany him as his opening act on a tour. At that time Goosen was also establishing a name for himself as a performer, with his original Afrikaans music and his hit Kruidjie-Roer-my-nie. Before this time it was often the case that German and other songs of foreign origin were translated and released here. Original local songwriters were few and far between.
The grand dame of theatre, Taubie Kushlick, invited Laurika to interpret the music of the Flemish singer/song writer Jacques Brel in a new production with Ann Hamblin and Ferdie Uphof. Kushlick quickly decided that this “boeremeisie” – as she always called Laurika – was the appropriate choice for her new production, Encore! Brel. It was a great success and played for six months in the Chelsea Theatre in Hillbrow. A follow-up production, The Best of Brel, followed in 1983.
In 1981 she was also in the cast of Met permissie gesê, written by Hennie Aucamp. ” Laurika says that this was a watershed in Afrikaans – the first Afrikaans cabaret. With Janice Honeyman as director and people such as Amanda Strydom, Rina Nienaber, Gerben Kamper and Bill Curry in the cast, the show was a form of “civilised protest” against the government of the day.
On a personal level, she married the son of a karoo farmer, Christopher Torr, in 1984. At the time he was a lecturer in economics (later to become a professor). They have two children, Simon and Nina and a first grandchild.
Christopher Torr develops as songwriter
“When I met Chris, he could play guitar, but had never tried his hand at song writing,” says Laurika. In 1984, however, he wrote a song in English about the bank robber André Stander, who had obtained almost legendary status in South Africa. The song was never recorded or performed. Chris said about the song that he was not trying to turn Stander into a hero, but that it was rather an attempt to comment on our reaction to and the romanticising of the comings and goings of the bank robber.
When somebody gave Laurika a recording of the music of the German singer Udo Jürgens, with the suggestion that she write Afrikaans words for the songs, she didn’t listen to it at first. “We all felt that we should concentrate on original music, and not translations”, Laurika remarks. Chris secretly began listening to these German songs, and without knowing what the German meant, wrote Afrikaans words for one of the songs - which eventually materialised into one of her greatest hits - Op Blouberg se strand. “He placed the words in front of me and said I must just sit and listen. It was so beautiful. I was touched when I realised that my English-speaking husband could write words that sounded like spoken Afrikaans. I knew how difficult it was to obtain and write good songs”, Laurika says. After that Chris was responsible for many of her greatest hits.
Laurika as a songwriter?
Laurika shakes her head if asked if she herself has ever tried her hand at song writing. “No,” she says, “but I have put quite a few poems to music and recorded them, such as Nalekokers and Niks hang so rooi soos wingerdblaar by Hexrivier , Ballade vir ‘n koningsdogter, Windliedjie and Toemaar die donker man.”
With the appearance of Kinders van die wind in 1979, Laurika became a household name in South Africa. Various albums and highlights followed. Her first album, Debuut, also appeared in 1979. Laurika recalls that “It wasn’t always easy to be a full time original artist in South Africa.” She remembers how she often had to try out new avenues step by step. There were not many advisors available.
“The music industry was an unknown terrain and we didn’t know anything about things such as musical rights and royalties. It was often a difficult learning experience.” Groep 2 and Sonja Herholdt were naturally the forerunners who paved the way and at that stage they were the only singers on the scene who performed similar music.
Together with compilation albums, Laurika has released 25 albums. (For the complete list, see Albums.)
Stuur groete aan Mannetjies Roux (1990), Die gang (1992) and beyond
Stuur groete aan Mannetjies Roux lies particularly close to Laurika’s heart as it was in more than one way a path breaker. “It was her first album to reach platinum status, and it was the first Afrikaans album by a female artist to appear on CD in South Africa.”A group of businessmen from Bronkhorstspruit made it possible for Laurika to launch the album as a CD at a time when the technology was relatively unknown and expensive. Chris Torr provided the title track about the legendary rugby player Mannetjies Roux. Die gang (1992) was a watershed album for her, as it was her first album to be released under the Laurika Rauch Productions label. She received a SAMA award for Hot Gates (1995). With The Brel Album (1997) Laurika returned to the greatest hits of Jacques Brel. Although there have been other successful greatest hits compilations, her 19 Treffers van 21 jaar (1999) could look back on a career of 21 years. This compilation has obtained triple platinum status and remains a good seller. The title track of Vier Seisoene Kind (2002) proved to be one of her most popular songs. My ou tante Koba (2004) was nominated for a SAMA. On her album Tweeduisend-en-tien! (2010), she performs a duet with Kurt Darren (Slang in die gras). Her first and only full-length DVD of a solo show, LAURIKA RAUCH: Grootste treffers LIVE was released in 2006.
Career highlights and awards
Between 2006 and today there have been many more career highlights and awards. (For a complete list see her extended biography )
Laurika admits that it is difficult to isolate career highlights as there have been so many! After she received a Sarie award in 1980 as most promising singer of the year, many followed. She was, for example, the first recipient of a medal of honour awarded in 1997 by the South African Academy for Arts and Science for her contribution to light Afrikaans music. In 2006 Huisgenoot crowned her with a lifetime achievement award.
Van Berlyn tot Bapsfontein, with Jannie du Toit in 1988, was another highlight for her. “I single out Huisgenoot Skouspel, which began in 2000, for the elegant way in which it annually presented Afrikaans music in a spectacular concert - enhancing the careers of singers,” she says. Since 2012, the torch that was lit by Huisgenoot Skouspel is now being carried by the marvellous Afrikaans is Groot productions. Laurika performed in three Afrikaans is groot-productions 2015 - 2017. She also singles out Samekoms/Kopano with Vusi Mahlasela in 1998/99 as a highlight. In 2011 her husband, Christopher Torr, completed the musical theatre piece, Stuur groete aan Mannetjies Roux, and four extremely successful sold out runs were completed at the end of July 2011.
There have been many overseas performances over the years.
Laurika remains in demand and performs regularly. Since Twee-duisend-en-tien! she has released another 4 albums, has received a gold award, two Tempo awards, several Ghoema awards and a lifetime achievement Bokkie award.
For for more information, click on her extended biography.