I am privileged to have seen both worlds. To have seen apartheid,
but without knowing it was apartheid. Because I had never known anything else.
And then to come out of it, and to have really seen the change.
My grandmother always said, "You set your own standards.
anyone tell you that you are raising the bar too high. Set goals for yourself,
and work towards them. When you don't succeed in reaching them, you tell
yourself before you go to bed, 'Lorraine, I tried.' Then you lay your head on
the pillow and you sleep because you have a clear conscience."
Remarks recorded during an interview.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Lorraine Klaasen grew up in a family of
musicians. "I was a fortunate child because music was part of my
life, of my heritage."
In 1975, at the age of 19, she stayed with a
group in Israel. For the first time, Lorraine discovered another perspective on
her own country. "People were saying to me, 'You come from South
Africa. How do you live under apartheid?' What? It was the first time that we
had looked at our country from the outside. People were asking us questions
that we would never have thought of ourselves." In 1976, student
demonstrations and the violence of the repression forced Lorraine to leave her
country. "One never leaves with the idea that one will not
return," she says. It was during this period that several members
of her family were killed.
She settled in Canada. In Montreal, the beginnings were difficult.
"Winter came. It was my first experience of snow, of cold. I had no
family, no friends. My husband was working. Imagine how alone I felt."
If before, Lorraine had been inspired by American songs, the loneliness she
felt in her new host country awakened her African identity. She replaced her
"dresses à la Diana Ross" with African clothing
included in her repertoire traditional South African songs. "I was
returning to my roots. Instinct took over. It was a turning point."
Her encounters with artists from different backgrounds, as well as her various
journeys, hybridized her repertoire and her music. "I work with
Jamaicans, with Haitians, with Québécois ... When I wanted to
understand their music, I went to their country. I was learning, then I was
returning to my roots and incorporating in my music what I had drawn from
theirs." South Africa is today a country to which Lorraine can
a land where she recovers her strength, which inspires her and nourishes her
life as an artist here. "I always remain close to South Africa. I go
back there more often than before. I have succeeded, in the sense that I have
realized my aims, reached my goal. I feel useful. When I return home, I
recharge my batteries. That encourages me to return here and to