Growing up in a multicultural shipping quarter of Antwerp, Wannes VanDeVelde took up music at an early age, heading for Belgium's Academy of Fine Arts at 16.
At the Academy, VanDeVelde began incorporating his long held love of café singing (from his part-time singing father) and elements of Spanish song (from the flamenco musicians surrounding the shipping quarter) in with newfound loves in jazz and in Flemish folk music. It is the Flemish folk music that was to prove VanDeVelde's major contribution to Belgian music. While musicians such as Jacques Brel had brought Belgium musical fame, it was through the Francophone end of affairs, and the fame came largely through foreign exposure. VanDeVelde, in contrast, performed primarily in Flemish, though he always kept himself proficient in flamenco guitar as well. By 1966, VanDeVelde had signed to a major label and released his eponymous debut. Released during a resurgence of Flemish pride, VanDeVelde's music sold well, as he covered traditional folk forms as well as his main endeavor, kleinkunst -- a Flemish relative of the cabaret genre, as it were. Though his recorded output diminished somewhat after the '80s (as he moved more into poetry and art), VanDeVelde still stood as the prime example of Flemish music and continued to sell well. After his death in 2008, an excellent Master Series compilation was released, charting in the Belgian Top Ten posthumously. ~ Adam Greenberg, Rovi