Helmut Lotti tells us about his love of Afrikaans and Iron Maiden ahead of his SA tour

2019-03-03 07:02
Gwenny Eeckels

Cape Town – The name Helmut Lotti is synonymous with a smooth and silky voice that South Africans love to listen to on the radio and watch in concert. 

The suave singer has embarked on local tours before, but his upcoming performance in Pretoria on 21 March at The Sun Arena is special because it's one night only. 

Helmut called Channel24 from Europe to tell us about what fans can expect from the soul-infused show, his love of Afrikaans and what's next for him. 


Helmut Lotti

(Photo: Gwenny Eeckels/Supplied)

The tour that Helmut is bringing to South Africa is titled The Comeback Tour and it has an element of what he's always done, taken to a customarily high standard. He explained: "It's going to be a two-hour show with an intermission. I'm taking my rhythm section from Belgium and I'm also working with a local choir and orchestra from South Africa with a strings and brass section. It's going to be like I used to perform in the past, like I always did when I came to South Africa. For one night only."

Helmut's love for SA runs deep, from language to scenery and people, he gushed: "I love the culture, the people and the country, it's very diverse. You have the world in one country with 12 official languages. The interesting thing for me as a Belgium is that Afrikaans is quite similar to Dutch. If you speak Afrikaans, I can understand you. As jy Afrikaans praat, sal ek vir jou verstaan. It's nice, it sounds cute, it sounds like old Dutch. My native language is Dutch, I'm from Belgium. Flemish is not a language; the language is Dutch."

As for plans away from the stage while visiting, the singer explained that working and putting on a good show is more important than exploring. He admitted: "We will only be there for a week and we plan to rehearse. So that we have good concert."

In terms of what concert goers can expect to hear on the big night, Helmut says that he is going to perform a wide array of songs, elaborating: "It will be a mix of old and new. The first part and then the second part (after intermission) but I don't want to give away too much. My new CD is called Soul Classics in Symphony, so I'll be singing a lot of soul songs in the first half. And then in the second half of the show I will be doing a best of."

In case you haven't heard the veteran musician's latest album, it's less a melding of soul and classic music but more a reimagining of soul classics. He explained: "I don't really meld the two genres (of soul and classical). I do big arrangements of soul classics. Which are basically well-known soul songs with a big orchestra. I didn't mix any real classical music onto this album. I just arranged with the orchestra."

The 49-year-old's love of soul goes back many years, but is not exclusive, he explained his eclectic taste, saying: "I have always loved soul music. I love all kinds of music, if it's well done. I like rap if it's well done. I like choral music, if it's well done. I like hard rock that is well done. The main thing is just that it's well done. My brother had a collection of Kiss and Iron Maiden and when I was about thirteen, I could sing along with a whole album of theirs called The Number of The Beast. So, I really like all kinds of music."

What are Helmut's favourite songs to perform live? He answered immediately: "I really do like my Elvis medley." He coyly added: "I also kind of like (long pause) actually…I'm not going to say. They'll have to come to the show." 

Looking back across his career he has no regrets about what might have been, saying: "When I get to South Africa it will have been thirty years since my first TV show. I come from a singing contest… I don't know (about changing anything), because if I had known all these things, that I know now I wouldn't have made the choices I did. Not knowing makes it more fun."

What's next for Helmut after this tour? A celebration of sorts: "This year, I'll have been in the industry for 30 years and I'll be turning 50 in October so I'm planning on celebrating. We will probably have some of kind of professional celebration in honour of that."


Venue: Sun Arena Time Square, Pretoria

Date: 21 March 2019. 

Tickets are priced from R375 and available at Computicket.

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