VAYA CON DIOS BIOGRAPHY
It was nearly 40 years ago that Dani Klein, Dirk Schoufs and Willy Lambregt put out the debut album of their Gypsy-blues trio known as Vaya Con Dios. Industry experts and even friends told them they would never get anywhere: the acoustical sound was too difficult to categorise, too tough to market.
They were indeed decidedly eclectic: a blend of blues-soaked lounge, Latin-infused pop and Memphis soul. But from the first sexy, sassy hit single ‘Just a Friend of Mine’, the band became a household name in Belgium.
Two years later, with the release of the second album, ‘Night Owls’, international fame was theirs. Music fans thirsting for soulful beats after the synthesised New Wave that had been dominating the airwaves ate the quirky Belgian band up, making hits out of both the fast, jazzy guitars on ‘Nah Neh Nah' and the slow, sultry Dani Klein classic ‘What’s a Woman?’. Between the never-ending tours and television appearances, audiences continued to be surprised and delighted to meet the Belgian whose voice they thought must belong to a southern blues woman.
The pressures of fame are infamous, and the band soon broke up. Not long after, Dirk died tragically, and Dani had to pull herself together and make a decision. She decided to carry on with the name Vaya Con Dios as a solo artist, a tribute to the musicians who created the band and to those who wanted to help it continue. It was clearly the right decision. Three more albums (‘Times Flies’, ‘Roots & wings’, ‘The promise’) and two compilations later, Vaya Con Dios has sold more than 10 million albums and singles and has fans across all around the world.
In 2009, Dani Klein put out her own album in French, ‘Comme on est venu’, calling on her love of great French-language songwriters, such as Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Léo Ferré and Barbara. Dani has been touring the world with musicians non-stop over the years.
From Istanbul to Helsinki, Jerusalem to Montreal, St Petersburg to Beirut and back again, Vaya Con Dios has played hundreds of shows in more than 40 countries, most of them sold out. In 2013, she started a Farewell tour that ended on 25 October 2014 in her home town, Brussels. Thousands of fans gathered in Forest National for the very last show of the band. A CD – DVD (‘Thank you all’) was recorded on this occasion.
A few months later, Dani Klein came back with another musical project. Together with Sal La Rocca (bass), William Lecomte (piano) and Tim De Jonghe (trumpet), she recorded her feel-good favorites songs from the repertoire of the legendary Billie Holiday. ‘Dani sings Billie’ came out along with a series of concerts in Belgium.
And after 6 years of silence, Dani Klein is now back in October 2022 with a new album (‘What’s a woman ?’). Her greatest hits revisited by her (on vocals) and William Lecomte (on piano). And who better than Dani Klein to speak about the origins of the project:
‘I was living a quiet life in a retired spot for some years and was very happy not to perform anymore. I had no desire to sing for an audience again and sang only for myself without being aware of it, as I have always done. Then came the Covid pandemic. Stuck in my appartement in Brussels I had started to sort out all the things I had accumulated through the years and to throw the useless ones away. It kept me busy for a while but then boredom settled in. Right at that time I was contacted by Théo Linder, an old friend of mine who had been my manager when ‘The Promise' was released.
Kenny Gates (director of PIAS) had started the project of a Piano-Voice Collection and wanted me to be part of it. I was to sing some of my previous hits and favorite songs accompanied only by a piano. It gave me something to do and a chance to get out of the house, so I said yes provided that William Lecomte would play the piano. He played for ten years with Vaya Con Dios and he is one of my all-time favorite pianists.
He wrote new arrangements and we spent 4 days in a recording studio nearby my house, no public transport was required and we would wear a mask when necessary. It was a lot of fun.
I was not happy with the rough-mixes though, so I decided to take the tracks to Thierry Plas’s studio where we re-recorded certain things and where we mixed the album, that time to my taste. Vocal cords are muscles and they too change as we get older. There are certain high notes that I cannot hit anymore but we have adapted the repertoire to suit my voice.
I hope you will enjoy listening to those revisited songs as much as I enjoyed recording them.’