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In a beautiful written piece for the New York Times, Trevor Noah paints a picture of his childhood with his mother

It's Time To Swing

2008-10-27 09:03
Are you excited to come back to SA?
Of course I am. I am especially excited to come back to Cape Town because that's been a very long time. I've been to Joburg two years ago I did concerts at the big top arena in Carnival City, but it's the first time in years that I'm coming back to Cape Town.

Why do you think SA audiences find you so appealing?
I have no clue but I'm working in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium, Holland, Canada, and also Scandinavia, so I think they just like my music.

Indeed. How is your "swing" different to other artists making the same kind of music, like say, Michael Buble?
It's different because I take the jazz out of it. There are a lot of people who like to dance and who like swing music but who don't really like the non-melodic stuff and the things that are too jazzy. What I did was that I did not try to make it big band I tried to turn it into a real Lotti album, so we actually didn't use saxophones but instead we used more violins and choirs which makes it more my sound, and I think that's the biggest difference.. And of course the fact that I'm singing it!

How did you choose which standards to include on It’s Time to Swing?
The choice was made my manager and me, and it's songs that we thought people would like because they are not too jazzy but they're still swing. I also tried to broaden the definition of swing, because it's got to do with the tempo, all the songs are in shuffle. We decided to record some country swing, like "King of the Road", some bluesy swing like "Fever", "That's Life" and "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" and then we also did very romantic and melodic soft swing like "Fly Me to the Moon" and "La Mer" (Beyond the Sea) with the original lyrics because it's an originally French song. We recorded in five different languages to prove to the audience that swing is not necessarily the rat pack or only American music. It's an American style and it's usually American singers who did it, but they actually got a lot of their inspiration from European and South American music.
How much of a challenge was it to write your own swing originals?
For me it was very easy because it was the music I listened to as a child. So I don't really find it all that difficult to write music in that style.

Where is the best place to listen to the new album?
It's very good music for driving in your car and also for the house keeping - swing your iron board!

You've played many concert halls and stadiums across the globe, what has been your most memorable performance so far and why?
I guess it was the World Music Awards in Monaco because Celine Dion was watching me and afterwards she came to tell me that she thought I was magnificent and that I had to take care of myself.

Which artists do you listen too?
I listen to Michael Buble I think he's a very good crooner, I also listen to 'Best Of' records like Elton John (and) Billy Joel. I really like to listen to a lot of music, modern music and old music, but still a lot of Elvis Priestly and also the jazz trumpet player and singer Chet Baker – I loved his music. He died I think 20 years ago or something.

How does Helmut prepare for a concert?
I eat before 5 if I have to sing at 8 because it's very important to go on the scene with full energy but an empty stomach. I drink 3liters of still water every day. I try to do sports regularly and I warm up my voice about half an hour before the concert, but I sing in the sound check already, so at 6 o clock I start to sing.

You've done classical and Latin American albums, and Elvis covers and now swing – what is next?
I have no clue what I'm going to do, I just no that next year I'll be singing for 20 years and I'm going to turn 40-year-old so I guess there's going to be some kind of jubilee.

If you weren’t a singer what would you be doing?
I'd probably be a postman because then I'd be able to ride on a bicycle, but I'm afraid of dogs which is not good for a postman, so I'm very happy that I'm a singer.

Last question: what motivates you to get up in the morning?
I get up seven and a half hours after I fell asleep, and that's a system, I mean I usually put my watch (away) but I (still) usually wake up seven and half hours after I fell asleep which is very good, it means I'm healthy.

- Ashlin Simpson

Hunky crooner Helmut Lotti jets back in to South Africa this week to perform songs off his brand new CD, Time to Swing. We got Belgium's answer to Michael Buble (or should that be Josh Groban?) to share his love of singing, swinging and his secret passion.

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