Nanne Kalma

Nanne Kalma’s roots

“During the chorus songs I’ve got goose bumps everywhere”

By Stephan Kraan
If you ever will or already have visited the shanty festival in Workum you cannot miss him: Nanne Kalma. As the always charming presenter of the concerts, where he introduces the artists to the public in an enthusiastic and amusing way. As the writer, the director, actor and singer during the mostly annual music theatre performances in the ship yard “The Hope”. As the musician in “Liereliet” and “Kat yn’t Seil”. The festival could not exist without the many volunteers, but certainly not without Nanne Kalma. Time and time again he manages to surprise the many admirers and lovers of his music. Small wonder he got the provincial culture prize “The Frisian Carnation “in the year 2000.
Nanne Kalma about his fascination for folk music, song cycles and a Capella singing.
“Because of the Beatle song “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in 1964 I wanted to start my guitar lessons when I was fourteen. I heard that song in “Time for Teenagers” and immediately went to the record shop to see the sleeve. Everything changed. I submerged myself into music . A year later I started the band “Pugh’s Place “ with friends. We played English-language pop music. And we had lots of success; so much that our first LP and single were produced by Boudewijn de Groot. Because several members of the band were studying at the time, we had to stop in 1971. My next band was “Farmers Union” which played English Folk. Folk music was much more relaxed and softer music than pop music. I found out that I loved ballads most. I discovered the folk group “Rum”. These boys sang their lovely songs in Flemish.
“Rum” made me aware of how beautiful and powerful it can be to make music in your own language. I then realised that my next step would be to sing in Frisian. In 1973 “Farmers Union” stopped. I took stock of the situation and fiddled around for a year. I looked for Frisian songs but could not find any. I decided to write them myself.”

Song cycles
Apart from my fascination to sing in my own language I was interested in song cycles based on a theme. That was because of the group “The Kinks.” They are known for their hits like “Lola” and “Sunny Afternoon”. In 1969 they released the rock opera “Arthur”. For me that was a true monument. An entire LP about the hardworking generation of the fifties, which had built up post-war Britain.
On the other hand there were the young people of the sixties, who took all the acquired luxury for granted. For me that was a familiar story, performed with beautiful and exciting music. The final song has been in my head every day for years on end. Also the later theme records, like “Preservation”, were wonderful song cycles. The music encyclopaedia of the pop magazine “Oor” regards “Preservation” as a low point in the career of “The Kinks”. For me it is a highlight; beautiful harmonies, sounds and a lot of humour. I loved these theme LPs. But it was totally different from the music I played with my bands. So when I was thinking about what to do after “Farmers Union” had stopped, I wanted to do something like “The Kinks” did.
During my search for Frisian songs I came across the Gudrun story. I asked a text writer to work out the story into different songs. This cycle I recorded with my friend Inez Timmer and guest musicians as a studio project. The “Gudrun Sège “ was a success and so, from this project, the Frisian folk group “Irolt” came into being in 1975. During the 12 years of “Irolt”, we regularly released theme records around Frisian folk tales. After that I also produced several song cycles with “Kat yn’t Seil” and “Kajto”.