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It's hardly two years since she won 'Idols' and she has already faded into oblivion

By unknown | Jun 22, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Debbie Hendriks

Debbie Hendriks

Karin Kortje, below, winner of Pop Idols III, was - in the words of her winning song -So Ready.

She was ready to kick off a career she could only dream of. And we were ready too, the not-so-white population of South Africa. We were ready with our votes, our hopes and prayers to help launch the career of one of our own.

Twice we had to watch a Heinz Winckler and Anke Pietrangeli snap up the title before more talented, in our eyes, black singers.

Karin's voice has been compared with that of Aretha Franklin. She possesses an air of humility and innocence that only added to her charm. We so much wanted her to win. And when she did, many of us cried with her on that Sunday in November 2005. The "impossible" happened - the shy girl from the plattelandsedorpie Grabouw in the Cape - who looked so out of place with her worn-out poncho - did it! In the beginning we thought, ag shame, you don't stand a chance against the younger, skinnier girls. But did she blow us away when she opened her mouth and sang that huge Shirley Bassey song!

And week-after-week we rooted for her; feverishly voting for her; compelling others to vote for her; even praying that she'd win. That maybe her talent alone wasn't enough, that she needed some higher intervention. We love rags-to-riches, Cinderella-turns-princess stories. We saw how she transformed before our very eyes; becoming more confident, almost unrecognisable in the fashionable clothes, new hairstyle and make-up. We began to believe she can actually win. And if Karin can, so can many others. She became the beacon of hope for many.

Winning that Idols was Karin's big break, helping her to rise above her circumstances. She won a car, R50000 and a record deal with Sony BMG. She moved to Johannesburg. Things looked up for this girl who had no parents and hardly any family, other than her boyfriend and 8-year-old son. We beamed with pride, smiled happily, thinking: You go girl!

But, it's not even two years and Karin has faded into obscurity. The light all but snuffed out. No major albums, gigs or even international recognition. What happened? Where did it all go wrong?


Cheslyn Williams - the boyfriend who would change famous Karin to infamous Karin. Willliams was arrested for the murder of a guesthouse owner, Renate Kellerman, of Durbanville in Cape Town. At the time of the crime, Karin and Jabu Mlotshwa, a member of her management team, stayed at the Le Petit Chateau guesthouse. Karin had been shooting a TV ad and they had returned to the house where they found Kellerman dead. At the time Williams violated his parole conditions by leaving Cape Town to live with Karin in Boksburg, Johannesburg.

The repercussions were huge. O Magazine cancelled Karin's performance and involvement at the magazine's Tea Parties to be held in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Associated Magazines said in a statement that "due to the unfortunate circumstance in her personal life, we have taken the decision to release her from her obligations towards O Magazine".

After messing up her name and her career, Cheslyn had the audacity to send Karin a "message" from his prison cell - via the yellow press - that if he can't have her, nobody can.


Has Sony BMG done anything to promote Karin or her album? We've seen pretty much of Nicky, Kesha and Deidre who ended in the Top 10 with Karin. Their video is promoted on TV almost every week. And I have still to find a review that raves about Karin. Is it because they are white? Will whites run out and buy their album and leave's Karin's to gather dust?


Apparently, Karin has had three managers since she won Idols . According to press statements she said: "Managers definitely don't do enough. Most of the time I think they're using the artist. You put so much trust in them and often they seem to be just in it to make money out of you. I think my current manager's cut is 20percent - that's a lot of money."


Coming from a small plattelandse dorpie the big city can be quite daunting - especially Johannesburg. It's as if everyone left her to her own devices. And no one really knows where she is. Whether she is hiding, laying low waiting for the dust to settle, or whether her bookings have dwindled to nothing.

Karin is not responding to phone calls, and already the rumour mill is doing its work. Some say she is in clutches of that age-old curse of many musicians - wine, (wo)men and song. "She is losing it big time," says a source close to Karin. "Lots of wine, lots of men."


Will Karin be able to rise above her circumstances yet again? We truly hope so, and if we must do it all over again, our votes, our hopes, our prayers, will be with you again, Karin.


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