Taliep Petersen

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Taliep Petersen (1950-2006) was a singer, musician, actor, composer and playwright.


Born and grew up in District Six. On December 16 2006 he was shot by two intruders in his house.


He got involved in music at a very young age. Began performing at age six for his father’s “Coon Carnival” troupe, the Dark Town Strutters. He matriculated from Salt River High School in 1967.


In 1979 he studied at the Fitznell School of Music in Surrey, United Kingdom, and was so inspired by the UK's West End shows that he wrote a revue based on his memories of New Year in Cape Town. This revue was called Carnival à la District Six.


He entered the professional arena by joining Alfred Herbert's African Jazz and Variety Roadshow, which toured South Africa and Mozambique.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

As singer and entertainer has performed with international stars. Petersen's first role in musical theatre was as a cast member of the touring production Hair in Maseru, Lesotho, followed by performances in Godspell and Pippin. He starred in the Des and Dawn Lindberg production of Pippin with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (1948-)[1] and direction, choreography and design by Des Lindberg. It also starred Sammy Brown, Jo-Ann Pezzarro, Bess Finney, Hal Watters, Sophia Foster, Robin Dolton and Andre Hattingh at His Majesty's Theatre in 1975. In the 1980s, he started a successful band called Sapphyre, who played in hotels all over the country. The band released an album called Rosa, which reinterpreted traditional Cape Malay songs in a modern style.

Together with David Bestman he wrote and produced Ronnie Quibell’s production of Carnival à la District Six at the Civic Theatre and later at His Majesty's Theatre in 1980.

In 1987 he co-wrote and directed the musical hit District Six – The Musical with David Kramer, then followed with Fairyland (1990), Crooners (1991), Poison (1992, 1994), Kat and the Kings (1995) and Klop-Klop (“Knock-knock”- 1997). In 198* he joined up with David Kramer and between them they have over the years produced the musical hits District Six – The Musical (1987?*), Fairyland (1990), Crooners (1991), Poison (1991), Kat and the Kings (1996?*), Klop-Klop (“Knock-knock”- 1997 and Ghoema (200*). He leads the band Sapphire, performs widely as musician and has made numerous television appearances. ***

Together with David Kramer he created Poison which was staged at the Nico Malan Theatre in 1992. At the same time their Fairyland was staged at the Dock Road Theatre and Crooners was staged at the City Lights Theatre.

In 2001 Petersen worked on a 13-part television series on the history of District Six, called O'se Distrik Ses, which has won numerous awards in South Africa. He conceived a television sitcom called Alie Barber, for which he wrote the songs in 2002. Due to its success, they filmed a second series.

He returned to music in 2006 when he launched his first Afrikaans album, Deur Dik En Dun. He was the presenter and musical director of Joltyd, a television series in which local minstrel troupes compete. Petersen, along with Deon Maas and Mynie Grove, was a judge for the Afrikaans version of Idols on television channel Kyknet in 2006, for which he and his family received death threats before the show had even started. His wife was held up at gunpoint outside their house in May while Petersen was in Namibia helping audition Idols hopefuls. He also received death threats on his phone, ordering him not to appear on the show. Despite the threats, Petersen decided to continue with the show and was a judge on it until it ended in August.

Awards, etc

As a teenager he won the Post newspaper Mr Entertainment competition in 1968/69.

Among his many awards are the Fleur du Cap Award for Best Contribution to a Musical or Revue for Kat and the Kings (1999) and the revival of District Six (2002), and a Laurence Olivier Award as Best New Musical in 1999 for Kat and the Kings, all of which he shared with David Kramer. In 2016 he received a posthumous Naledi Lifetime Achievement Award from the


Tucker, 1997.

Press Release 21 April 2016 by Peter Feldman: "Taliep Petersen Honoured with a Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award", The Famous Idea <info@thefamousidea.co.za>

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