DAVID KRAMER was born in Worcester, South Africa in 1951, received his schooling in the same town and was awarded a bursary to study at Leeds University in the UK, where he graduated with Honours in 1974.
He began his musical career as a singer/songwriter, performing at folk clubs and campus concerts across South Africa in the late 1970’s, singing satirical songs in English and Afrikaans. He portrayed himself as a rural everyman who travelled the dusty roads of small town South Africa with an old bicycle and a cheap guitar. When he released his first album in 1980, it was banned in its entirety by the SABC as it was considered too political and vulgar for the South African ear. Despite initial setbacks, he went on to be awarded 11 gold and one platinum record for sales of his albums.
Today he works as a writer and theatre director. His interest and passion has, for almost thirty years been to explore South African identity. His work in South African musical theatre has focused primarily on the communities of the Cape. The thrust of the five musicals that he wrote with Taliep Petersen and one on his own, is in the retelling of a suppressed history.
In 1985 he worked under the direction of the late Barney Simon, creative director of the Market Thetre in Johannesburg. As a result of this watershed experience, he started letting other actors interpret his songs, which led to his writing a musical. Four of these musical collaborations with Taliep Petersen, DISTRICT SIX, POISON AND KAT AND THE KINGS and GHOEMA have toured internationally. District Six was invited to the Edinburgh International Festival, POISON was performed in Malaysia and KAT AND THE KINGS made its international debut at the Tricycle Theatre in 1999. KAT has gone on to be performed in the West End and on Broadway, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London in 1999. It is the only South African musical to have been performed both on the West End and Broadway.
On his return to South Africa in the same year David received the Afrikaans Onbeperk award from the KKNK in Oudtshoorn, awarded annually to someone who has made a significant contribution to the Afrikaans language.
He has also written an Afrikaans musical, DIE BALLADE VAN KOOS SAS, which expolores the trade in “Bushmen” skeletons during the early 1900’s, and won the De Kat Herrie Award in South Africa. This musical was commissioned by the Suidoosterfees and was reworked for their 2008 SOF, and won the Skouerklop Award at the festival. It enjoyed a successful season at the Tricycle Theatre in London, becoming the first Afrikaans musical to be performed in Afrikaans on a British stage (with subtitles provided for English audiences).
In 2001 David presented a concert showcasing eccentric musicians discovered in small towns in the Karoo. KAROO KITAAR BLUES has made an enormous impact on South African audiences, and toured to capacity houses all over South Africa. A live CD was recorded and the show was awarded 2 FNB Vita Awards. A 90 minute documentary directed by Liza Key about these musicians and David’s work with them has been shown on television in South Africa, the UK, Sweden, Finland and New Zealand and continues to be seen at film festivals in the UK, USA and Europe. KAROO KITAAR BLUES won the Golden Reel Award for Best Musical Documentary at the 2006 Tiburon International Film Festival in California. One of the purposes of this ongoing project of his is to rekindle an interest in, and appreciation of this old music. His wish is for the origins of this folk music heritage that is an expression of our history, to be acknowledged.
He received a GMT Lifelong Achievement Award in 2005 for his contribution to Afrikaans music. He has also been honoured by SARRAL (South African Recording Artists Assoc. Ltd) and entered in their Composers Hall of Fame.
David has worked with the very popular stand-up comedian Marc Lottering for a number of years, having directed 3 of his most successful shows: FROM THE CAPE FLATS WITH LOVE, BIG STAKES AND SLAP CHIPS , HALLELUJAH! , most recently 3 WISER MEN.
GHOEMA was David’s last collaboration with Taliep Petersen in which they
explored early South African history and celebrated the musical heritage of the Cape. GHOEMA was written and directed by Kramer, with musical direction by Taliep Petersen. The production was nominated for 7 Fleur du Cap awards. David won for Best Set Design and shared the award for Best Lighting Design with Gert du Preez. It won 3 Naledi Awards in Johannesburg , including Best Production of a Musical. GHOEMA has enjoyed two international seasons, one at the Tricycle Theatre in London where it was performed in English for the Xmas season 2006/07. More recently it toured the Netherlands for a month, performing to Dutch audiences in the original Afrikaans version.
As a tribute to his 20 year partnership with Taliep Petersen, and to honour his memory, a production called the Kramer Petersen Songbook was staged at the Baxter Theatre for the Dec/Jan summer season and ran to sold out houses from the very first performance.
In Dec 2007 David was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Cape Town.
David’s most recent project, Kaapse Breyani was commissioned by the Suidoosterfees in 2009 and after performances at the 2010 KKN, he received
A Kanna award for Exceptional Contribution to a Music Production. More recently he received the ATKV-Prestige award and the Innibos Festival honoured him for Oustanding Contribution to the Afrikaans Entertainment Industry.
Visit David Kramer’s website www.davidkramer.co.za