Wannes Van de Velde has died
The Flemish singer and artist Wannes Van de Velde has died at the age of 71.
He had been suffering from a terminal illness for some time. As the son of a singer, Wannes Van de Velde developed his love of music at an early age. He grew up in the colourful Schipperskwartier district of Antwerp. At home the family repertoire was made up of songs about real life, comic songs and battle songs.
At the age of sixteen Van de Velde enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where he studied painting.
During his time as a student he also earned himself a name as a saxophonist in the many jazz cafés that existed in Antwerp during the 1950’s.
Anger was an important leitmotiv in his work.
He deplored the demolition of the historic heart of the city he loved.
His love for Antwerp earned him the nick-name of the city’s unofficial poet laureate.
Wannes Van de Velde released his first LP in 1966. It consisted of a selection of songs sung in the language he knew best, Antwerp dialect.
An all-round artist
During the 1970’s Van de Velde was also active in the World of theatre.
He teamed up with several young actors to stage Dario Fo’s "Mistero buffo".
Meanwhile, Van de Velde enjoyed a big hit in Flanders with "Ik wil deze nacht in de straten verdwalen" (I want to get lost in the streets tonight).
Wannes Van de Velde moved away from traditional Flemish folk to incorporate new more exotic elements into his work such as flamenco.
One of his biggest hits came when he teamed up with the Dutch singer Hans De Booij in a re-make of the Bobbejaan Schoepen classic, "Lichtjes van de Schelde" (The lights of the River Scheldt).
In 1999 Wannes Van de Velde made a unique album together with the blues singer Roland Van Campenhout.
A year later he was diagnosed with leukaemia. However, he beat the disease and promptly went on tour.
The publication of the third part of his diaries in 2007 was Van de Velde’s last contribution to Flemish culture.
A true all-rounder, Wannes Van de Velde will be sorely missed.