Dan Heymann, writer of South African freedom song, Weeping

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Click here to view a very compressed history of the anti Apartheid movement in South Africa

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Weeping: Dan Heymann, songwriter Picture: gillstrawberry.co.za

Dan Heymann was a founder-member of the South African band, Bright Blue, during 1983, playing keyboards and writing songs in the band until 1990.

Hailing from Cape Town, Dan Heymann was born in 1960, and took classical piano lessons at school, until the age of about 14.
During that time, Dan Heymann never mastered the art of reading music fluently, preferring to figure pieces out by ear, which naturally was an obstacle in Dan Heymann's classical-music progress!
However, after ending his classical lessons, Dan Heymann did a lot of listening to rock-'n-roll music, and occasionally jammed with schoolmates, two of whom would later work with Dan Heymann as members of Bright Blue.
At that time, Dan Heymann played an old electric organ, handed down from a cousin.

Following high school, Dan Heymann studied engineering at the University of Cape Town, where his continued interest in music led him to keep playing the piano.
For his 21st birthday, he used the money he'd saved to buy himself a Wurlitzer electric piano, which enabled him to make some vacation-money playing background-music in restaurants,
and that led to a few gigs with a hastily-assembled jazz band, after being heard by guitarist Tom Fox, who was also to become a founder-member of Bright Blue!

The influence of traditional South African music was hard to resist, and the solo improvisations of Dan Heymann soon took on some local flavor.
In mid-1983, his final year on campus, Dan Heymann was invited by those former high-school-mates (the brothers Ian and Peter Cohen) to lend his musical style to founding a band,
where Dan Heymann first met singer-songwriter Robin Levetan, who fronted the band, and was re-united with Tom Fox, his former crony from the short-lived jazz band.

After a busy first year with the band, Dan Heymann found his musical career on hold, when he was drafted into the Army of the oppressive Apartheid regime.
However, Dan Heymann was able to continue developing his musical ideas, using any pianos that were available on army bases, and that's where Dan Heymann wrote the music of "Weeping".
At that time, Dan Heymann intended only to capture his anti-army feelings in a melancholy instrumental piece;
But many months later, the declaration of a State of Emergency by the white regime gave Dan Heymann the idea for the lyrics of "Weeping".

Upon being discharged from the army in 1986, Dan Heymann moved to Johannesburg with the band (minus Robin Levetan), where he lived for his final five years in South Africa.
During that period, the band recorded "Weeping", and saw it spend two weeks at number one on the government-run station, Radio Five.

After the band split up, Dan Heymann worked as a free-lance keyboard-player around Johannesburg, until 1992 when Dan Heymann moved to New York City, where he now lives, and continues to write.

Click here for "Weeping" Homepage

Weeping , written by Dan Heymann (sometimes mis-spelled as Dan Heyman ), is a famous protest song that emerged from the South African anti Apartheid movement during the mid-1980's, and this song of freedom has been recorded by many artists, including noted South African band Bright Blue and, more recently, Josh Groban , in a collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Vusi Mahlasela , who has previously released a solo recording of this song of protest . The anti Apartheid lyrics Weeping contains are among the most-recorded freedom song lyrics of any protest song to have come out of South Africa. The Weeping song (rights to which are partially controlled by Muffled Music ) led to a February, 2006, encounter between singer Josh Groban and songwriter Dan Heymann (occasionally mis-spelled as Heyman ) at New York City's Sony Studios, a legendary institution which has given many a song freedom to soar. It was a thrill for Dan to hear his anti Apartheid song being recorded by such a high-caliber team. Having been a musician in contact with various anti-Apartheid movements during the Freedom-Struggle in South Africa, when examining the Weeping lyrics , Dan was thrilled to feel the connection of his lyric to protest song tradition. When the time came to add backing vocals, nobody needed to teach Vusi Mahlasela lyrics to the Weeping song , having already performed it live so many times, and this new rendition of Dan's familiar rhyming- lyric protest song should give the song freedom to reach many new listeners. Many protest songs were inspired by the anti Apartheid movement and Dan is proud that his freedom song has been so well-received, particularly when there are already so many wonderful anti-Apartheid protest song lyrics in existence.