South Africa’s latest Grammy award winner, flautist Wouter Kellerman, is proof that no matter how very, very, very long the route you take, you get there in the end.
The Johannesburg musician and his collaborator, Indian composer Ricky Kej, won the Best New Age Album Gong for Winds of Samsara at this year’s 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards, recently held the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.
He told Eyewitness News yesterday: “[The win] will just help us to be given more opportunity to do what we love. The [album’s] message is of peace, love and tolerance, about Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.”
But boy, was it a long and winding road. After completing his matric decades ago, he studied Electrical Engineering at Rand Afrikaans University (renamed University of Johannesburg).
After two years of national service he worked at a coal mine in Witbank to pay back a bursary from Anglo American. A year later he quit and played in the defence force’s medical services’ band to pay off the debt.
He started an engineering and consulting company that kept him busy in the afternoons. But music was what he really wanted to do.
Fast-forward to July last year when the album Winds of Samsara was released on iTunes.
According to Sheer Publishing, the album made Kellerman the first South African musician to be ranked No1 on the Billboard New Age Charts in the US.
Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse congratulated him on Twitter yesterday. Sibongile Khumalo: “One of the hardest working musos I know … congrats. #WouterKellerman on the Grammy2015. Well deserved.”