What drives Idols' Elvis Blue

By admin
23 March 2010

The sound of strumming guitars fills the air of the Eden congregation’s hall in George. “Easy or difficult?” Elvis Blue asks.

“Easy first, please,” the five students ask the cool guy who had Idols judge Mara Louw in tears at his first audition for the reality TV series.

He gives guitar lessons to kids in disadvantaged communities and sometimes donates instruments to those who are passionate about music and needy. He’s 30 years old and his name is Jan Hoogendyk.

And no, his stage name isn’t about the King. It’s a tribute to a friend named Elvis Blaauw, an 11-year-old boy with Aids who died 18 months ago in the hospice where Jan’s wife, Chireze, works.

“He had big dreams about playing keyboards and I could identify with him because I also once thought my dreams were unattainable. At my age this is my last chance.”

At the Idols audition he first explains his name then sings Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love.

Veteran musician Mara Louw wipes her eyes. “There’s just a few people who can reduce me to tears when they sing,” she says. “You sang that song from your heart. That’s what singing is all about.”

Days later in George Jan says he’s pushing through to the final. He hasn’t spent a decade working hard, often singing without payment in clubs, just to drop out in the first few rounds.

Chireze and Jan’s tasteful home is their creative retreat. There are arty photographs of baby Lila (seven months) on the fridge and in her room brightly coloured animals smile from the wall above her bed.

From 2002 to 2006 he performed countrywide under the stage name Mono and released two albums, In Stereo and One. Touring was exhausting so in 2006, when he was offered the chance to settle in George, he grabbed the opportunity.

Chireze found a job at the Bethesda Children’s Home and Hospice in the town, which is where Jan met Elvis Blaauw.

“He was such a cool guy. And when he told me he wanted to be a musician one day his dreams moved me. He spent his entire life in hospital but he kept dreaming. He really touched me.”

Elvis’ poignant dream gave Jan the idea to start performing as Elvis Blue.

“I’d wanted to take part in Idols for years but there was always something that got in the way,” he says. Then earlier this month he decided it was now or never.

“I just kept telling myself, ‘This is it!’ and, ‘I’m doing it for Elvis Blaauw, the little guy who couldn’t make his dreams come true. But I can. And I will’.”

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