Dan Heymann, songwriter of Weeping

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Click here to read a little about Vusi Mahlasela's story
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Weeping: Dan Heymann, songwriter Picture: gillstrawberry.co.za

When the South African band, Bright Blue, was formed during 1983, Dan Heymann was a founder-member, and was the keyboard-player until the band wound down in 1990, also writing several songs, the best-known being "Weeping".

Heymann is a native of Cape Town and, until the age of about 14, took lessons in classical piano at school.
However, the art of fluently sight-reading music eluded Heymann, who preferred to try working tunes out by ear.
This, of course, placed a limit on Heymann's classical-music development!

Heymann, after discontinuing his classical studies, listened hard to contemporary music, and found a few schoolmates with whom to jam, two of whom subsequently became Heymann's partners in Bright Blue.
The only "mobile" keyboard available to Heymann at that time was an old electric organ.

Following the end of high school, Heymann enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of Cape Town, where music continued to attract him, and, right up until graduation, he would improvise alone on any piano he came across on campus.

Heymann treated himself to a 21st-birthday gift; a brand-new Wurlitzer electric piano, which suited his percussive style much better than the old organ.
A summertime gig earning money by playing background-music in restaurants brought Heymann into contact with guitarist Tom Fox, who invited Heymann to join his hastily-assembled jazz band, Soft Landing, for a few holiday-season shows.
Later, Tom Fox would also be pivotal in founding Bright Blue.

The sound of indigenous South African music was all around, and was too seductive to resist;
Having grown up there, the piano improvisations of Heymann incorporated a fair amount of the local tradition.

In the middle of his final year on campus, 1983, Heymann once again hooked up with his acquaintances from high school, the Cohen brothers (drummer Peter and bass-player Ian) who were considering starting a band with a singer-songwriter named Robin Levetan, and were interested in Heymann's musical style.
The guitarist they had in mind was none other than Tom Fox, with whom Heymann had played in the short-lived jazz band.

That first year in Bright Blue was a busy one, but then Heymann had to pause his musical career, when he was conscripted into the Army of the white-supremacist government.
During those two unwilling years in the army, Heymann never missed an opportunity to improvise on any piano he found at an army base, and was thus able to continue pursuing musical ideas; The music of "Weeping" was created by Heymann in precisely this way.
Heymann intended the piece merely to express his discontent with his situation, as a wistful instrumental piece;
But many months later, the government imposed a State of Emergency to muzzle the media, and Heymann had the idea for putting some words to "Weeping".

Following his 1986 demobilization from the army, Heymann spent a few years working full-time with the band (minus Robin Levetan) in Johannesburg, a much larger city than Cape Town, and the nerve-center of South Africa's music industry.
While there, "Weeping" was recorded by the band, and Heymann had the satisfaction of seeing it spend two weeks in the number one position on the government's "Radio Five" station.

Heymann continued working around Johannesburg after Bright Blue dissolved, playing keyboards free-lance, and early in 1992, Heymann re-located to New York City, his current home, where he is still writing.

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.