It’s no secret that sports and music are a perfect match. You only need be at a big sporting event to know how important a stadium-sized tune is to getting hearts racing and setting the scene for the action unfolding on the field.
But it’s not often that the person creating that power-packed sports action is the same person behind the mic – until now. The release of ‘Maak Jou Drome Waar’ by AB de Villiers and Ampie du Preez is a first for a top-drawer South African cricketer – and will come as a brilliant treat to those who have tracked the career of the prodigiously talented top-order batsman.
Of course, De Villiers is quick to pay tribute to his “team-mate” in creating “Maak Jou Drome Waar”.
“Ampie’s an amazing partner to work with and a brilliant musician,” the cricketer-turned-musician says of his longtime friend and creative comrade-in-arms on the 14-track offering.
Du Preez – who has gained a reputation as a formidable musician through his work with bands like ‘n Man Soos Jan – is as full of praise for his partner on “Maak Jou Drome Waar”.
“AB is as fearless with his music as he is on the cricket pitch,” Du Preez reveals.
“It takes a real commitment to take the plunge into music – especially when you are fitting recording and writing sessions inbetween playing for the national team. But AB and I really wanted to make this happen and we’re very proud of what the full album has turned out to be.”
The songwriting credits on “Maak Jou Drome Waar” reveal just how tight the partnership between De Villiers and Du Preez is: of the 14 songs on the album, six were written by De Villiers and Du Preez together while another three were written by the duo with additional songwriters – including Snotkop who contributes on the key album track “Forgiveness”.
“’Forgiveness’ is a song that will resonate with every single South African – much like our sports team do,” says De Villiers.
And he’s right: set against a rocking musical bedrock, the song is one of affirmation, especially in this post-2010 FIFA World Cup period. “You know you are special/tomorrow will never be the same/come and stand a little bit closer/let us change the world that we are living in,” the lyrics of unity go, whilst namechecking an array of things that are special to all South Africans (from Mango Groove to Brenda Fassie, Kaiser Chiefs, Chappies, the Madiba jive, Zola Bud, gumboots… and many, many more).
It’s this idea of inclusivity and Ubuntu that drives “Maak Jou Drome Waar”. Around half of the album’s songs are in Afrikaans – including the love song “Sprokies Vir Jou” – ensuring the album’s appeal to De Villiers and Du Preez’s core audience. But songs like the album’s first single “Show Them Who You Are” are uplifting, rock-charged numbers that would not be out of place in a sports or music stadium anywhere in the world.
The latter song is an album highlight which De Villiers and Du Preez crafted before the cricketer’s 2008/2009 tour to Australia which proved to be a resounding success for De Villiers, marking his arrival as a worldclass cricketer to be reckoned with.
Relates De Villiers, “Ampie and I sat down and discussed the direction we wanted our first recording together to go in because I was leaving for three months. We wanted a song that would reflect our belief in being able to find the strength in yourself to be the best you can be, no matter who you are or what it is that you do.”
For De Villiers, the release of “Show Them Who You Are” is a chance to showcase a different side to the globally-revered sportsman – a side that sees the Titans and Delhi Daredevils batsman in a more reflective, introspective mode.
“I’m the kind of guy who likes to be alone once in a while – and at these times I find it very easy to let my creative side come out and write about what moves me. I really, really love reading and writing.”
Music has always been a passion for De Villiers. “I’ve always loved music – since I was at school and found my way around the basics of a guitar,” De Villiers confesses.
In this, he found the perfect partner in Du Preez who has gained a standing as a musician of considerable weight over the years; in particular his guitar-playing and feel for a melody have earned this multi-talent plenty of fans. And although the two had planned to work together no matter what, the fact that their voices perfectly complement each other is another of the album’s most notable features. Indeed, the album’s title track – “Maak Jour Drome Waar” – is an epic track that superbly illustrates how well the duo’s abilities are matched – and is now matched by a terrific video.
Both De Villiers and Du Preez are proud South Africans – and alongside the songs of young crushes (the nostalgic “Onthou Jy”) and early love (“Valentyn”) comes ‘Madibaland”, a moving, thoughtful and delicately-rendered tribute to former President Nelson Mandela. The song appears twice on “Maak Jou Drome Waar” – an original and an acoustic version. It’s an indication of how important Madiba is to two young Afrikaners who are fully engaged with the heart of the democratic South Africa – and, in De Villier’s case, stands as a role-model to young South Africans of all backgrounds.
“We hoped to make an album that was first and foremost great entertainment for music fans,” says Du Preez. “But,” adds De Villiers, “we also wanted the album to uplift, inspire and unite everyone in the spirit of Madiba.”
Indeed. With “Maak Jou Drome Waar”, these two creative talents have done just that – proving once and for all that sports and music can combine in the most potent way.