Johannes Kerkorrel (27 March 1960–12 November 2002, born Ralph John Rabie) was a singer-songwriter, journalist and playwright from South Africa.
Born in Johannesburg, Rabie worked as a journalist on the Afrikaans-language weekly newspaper Rapport. In 1986, as apartheid reached its zenith under National Party-led government under State President P.W. Botha, Rabie started performing politically themed cabaret at arts festivals under his new stage name (kerkorrel meaning church organ in Afrikaans). In 1987, Rabie was fired by Rapport for using quotes from Botha's speeches in his music; he then became a full-time musician and performer under the name Johannes Kerkorrel en die Gereformeerde Blues Band ("Johannes Kerkorrel and the Reformed Blues Band"), a deliberate reference to the Reformed Church. The band also included the Afrikaans singer-songwriter Koos Kombuis. At the time their brand of new Afrikaans music was dubbed "Alternatiewe Afrikaans" and exposed divergent political views to a new generation of Afrikaners.
In 1989, they released the album Eet Kreef ("Eat Crayfish") on the now-defunct Shifty Records label, which was a commercial success despite its tracks being banned from radio airplay by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which was the government mouthpiece. The subsequent regional tour of college campuses and art festivals was called "Voëlvry" (literally free as a bird but here meaning outlawed), and Rabie's controversial reinvention of Afrikaans popular music became known as the "Voëlvry movement".
In 1990, Rabie visited Amsterdam, and almost simultaneously the track "Hillbrow" from the Eet Kreef album became a hit in Belgium, and Rabie followed its success with a solo tour. In subsequent years he enjoyed substantial artistic success in Belgium and the Netherlands, and spent much of his time in Belgium. Here he also befriended Stef Bos, a Dutch cabaret artist, with whom he would share a number of concerts.
Rabie hanged himself on 12 November 2002 in Kleinmond, near Hermanus on the Western Cape coast. He was survived by his long-term gay partner, and by his ex-wife and son.
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