Lance James – Country Legend!


Lance James is a versatile, bilingual performer who specialises in Corporate functions, Concerts, Dances, Barndances, Weddings, Shopping Centre promotions, and In-store promotions. He is considered as one of the top entertainers ever in South Africa, and has an excellent rapport with his audiences.

Winner of six SABC Sarie Awards, a “Loony’s Award” for his contribution to entertainment, plus an Honorary Award from ATKV Centurion, Beeld and Pretoria Afrikaanse Sakekamer for his contribution to Afrikaans music. Lance has appeared in many top Television Shows, is a well established Master of Ceremonies, as well as a well known Radio Broadcaster, currently broadcasting on Radio Today.

As with all my interviews, it was so interesting how this meeting came about and I’m so glad it did! For some time now I’ve done some work for the same radio station which airs Lance’s show Keep It Country, Radio Today Johannesburg, but I’d never had the opportunity of meeting Lance. However, I emailed Lance one day requesting that he played the music of Carly Ritter on his show for me – which he listened to and loved – and I asked him whether he’d mind being interviewed on Pop Speaking. SUCH an exciting moment for me as Lance James has been a legend in country music for over 55 years!!

Lance James is a gentleman through and through and the hour we spent together was so appreciated – I wish there were more men around like this. Definitely a treasured moment that I won’t forget. 

You’ve been in showbiz for over 50 years. How has your style changed, you must have seen immense changes in the technology, the market, the way things have been done .. chat about your journey. Has your style changed much? What’s your drive been to keep going?

There have been a lot of changes through the years in terms of music styles – when I started there were a lot of things like big bands, but I don’t think my style in either radio or music has changed that much. I have been so blessed to be able to do what I love, I love my music and radio. I’ve been working as a professional in the business for 57 years. What I do find is that with all the changes in South Africa today there are not a lot of new South African musicians in the country genre, a sign of the changing times I suppose. 

How did you get started?

Well I’ve always been doing it. But I went to Nashville in the United States in 1975 and heard the term ‘country’, and heard the music and I realised I’d been doing it for years! And then of course I got started in Springbok Radio in 1954. I remember the exact day – it was 1 May. I saw an advert that Springbok was looking for someone – an effects operator, they called it. I applied and got the job. Radio and music has been good to me, the SABC have been good to me and they remain close to my heart despite all the changes. 



Keep It Country is the longest running radio show on South African radio. I love that in itself. How did the show come about?  What have been the ups and downs around that? You started on Springbok Radio I understand. Legend in itself.  You’re an entertainer – a radio presenter, and a singer. Is there one aspect of it all that jumps out over the others?
I think it may be the longest running show by the same presenter. In April this year it will have been running for 38 years. It started on Springbok Radio 

Have you had more success with English or Afrikaans – I realise you are completely bilingual, but are you English or Afrikaans?

My dad was Afrikaans, but I was only 11 when he died. I have had a lot of success with Afrikaans songs though. It’s such a spiritual, descriptive language, and Dankie and Vicky are two examples of Afrikaans songs I’ve had great success with. 

 Talk to me about Country Legends and The Rodeo Girls
The “Country Legends”, Barbara Ray, Clive Bruce and Sally Vaughn have been in the forefront of entertainment in South Africa for decades now, and still enjoy huge popularity, and remain in demand throughout the land. Barbara Ray is the “Queen of Country”, Clive Bruce is known as the “Midnight Cowboy” and Sally Vaughn, as “Mama Country” who has represented South Africa twice at music festivals in America and the Rodeo Girls will bring much glamour to the show. The Rodeo Girls are a lovely dancing group. 

Are there any shows coming where we can catch you? 

Yes, on 8 March at the Cresta Barnyard, we’ll be having the Keep It Country show.  
And then after that the  LEGENDS SPECTACULAR, with Lance James, Barbara Ray, Jody Wayne and Clive Bruce takes place on the following dates.
Wednesday 26 March  – Aasvoëlklub Bloemfontein
Thursday 27 March – Boeretroos, East London
29 March to 1 April we’ll be at KKNK at the Absa Centre with Cheree & Wynand, and Manie Jackson.

I’ve appeared at many of the casinos around Johannesburg, and years ago I took part in shows in your neck of the woods – in the band stand at Rhodes Park. 

A lot of your songs are spiritual – Dankie is one of the most spiritual and reaching songs I know. It touches souls, and that is essentially what I’m trying to do with this blog.  How does it feel to know that a song touches people, that in today’s and yesterday’s generations people were touched, and will be tomorrow?


I’ve led a blessed life and I thank the Lord that I’m able to make contact with people. You know when I’m at a show, and I see someone smile, or even shed a tear, I feel blessed. There were two specific instances where I know my songs saved lives. People wrote to me afterwards. One guy wrote to me and said that he had been going to commit suicide on that very day but he heard Dankie and decided he would try more.  He had been going to do it that very day! And that is something very special. 

Has there been one special moment – something pivotal that you would say ‘changed your life’?

Dankie is one of those songs that changed my life. I recorded it in 1968. It was actually a song in German, and we were recording an Afrikaans album. So they rang up a gent by the name of Chris Steyn, and told him to drop everything and come in and translate it. And he did, and we recorded it on the same day. That song changed my life. To this day it does. That’s when I realised there was a God. And I thank him and talk to him every day. And I know that schools sing that song and hundreds of choirs sing it. 
Have you ever hit such a low point in your career that you did or wanted to sit in the corner and not be able to face standing up again and what caused that low point?

 We all have highs and lows, but I am so fortunate in that I have never suffered from depression. The Lord has been good to me and I speak to him about 20 times a day. I get the guidance of the Lord and I would say just hold on. 

The best way to thank Lance for this interview is to simply say Dankie, which means Thank you in Afrikaans.



Because I know most of the readers of this blog are American / English, here’s one of Lance’s English songs – fabulous musician! (I’ll also be happy to provide a translation of Dankie if anyone would like)

Lance has about 70 recorded albums to his credit, most recently “One Day at a Time” gospel (2005), “50 Goue Jare” (2006), to celebrate 50 years in music, and in 2007 he released a “live” DVD “50 Goue Jare”. He also appears on “Toeka 2” (2006) and “Country Legends” (2007) and “Ek Sing vir jou Bles” (2007) DVD. His latest double CD “It is No Secret” was released mid February 2008 and ‘Nader my God” released in May 2008. 

Find out more about him on his site and listen to Keep It Country on Radio Today Johannesburg on Tuesdays at 6pm. 

Thank you for reading this post. I’d love you to share it, and also to follow on @Popspeaking. Please leave a comment. 

Related posts