Born in Worcester in 1951, David Kramer matriculated at Worcester Boys High School and received a bursary to study textile design at Leeds University , UK where he graduated with an Honours degree in 1974.
He began his music career as a singer/songwriter, performing at folk clubs and campus concerts across South Africa in the mid 1970’s, singing satirical songs.
Releasing his first album BAKGAT! in 1980, which was immediately banned in its entirety by the SABC because of it’s political satire, the use of coarse language and the mixing of languages. David pioneered the use of Cape Afrikaans and South African English in his lyrics, sometimes switching between the languages in the same song. He focussed on small town South Africa and employed a gritty realism and dark satire to tell his stories and describe his characters.
In his stage performances he portrayed himself as a rural everyman who travelled the dusty roads of small town South Africa with an old bicycle and a cheap guitar. He sang in the Boland patois of his youth and told stories and sang songs in both English and Afrikaans.
He rocketed into the public eye with a number 1 hit, "Blokkies Joubert" a portrait of a has-been Springbok rugby player, closely followed by another huge Top Ten hit, "Royal Hotel". Many hits were to follow. "Montagu", "Boggem en Voertsek", "Budgie", "Matchbox full of diamonds", "Druk my vas", "Stoksielalleen", "Hanne", "Meisie sonner sokkies" and the hugely popular " So long Skipskop" which tells the story of forced removals from a fishing village in the Cape. Most of his album releases have gone gold and the six musicals he has written along with Taliep Petersen over the past 18 years have all been enormous box office successes.
In 1983 David was contracted by Volkswagen South Africa to link his idiosyncratic South African image to their microbus. This was the beginning of a television and print campaign that won the hearts of South Africans, made David Kramer into a household name and was to continue for the next thirteen years. Probably the longest running celebrity endorsement this country has seen.
In 1986 Taliep Petersen and David began collaborating on their first musical project called District Six. It was produced by the Baxter Theatre and Renaye Kramer and opened in April 1987. This production was to prove to be another milestone in David's writing career.
In 1990 David collaborated with Paul Slabolepszy in The eyes of their whites, a portrait of the right wing psyche in South Africa. It was directed by Bobby Heaney. In this production Kramer performed many of his songs including Going Away, Mambas in the Gutters, Driver Driver and Suburban Dream. They performed to critical acclaim on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and it was filmed by the BBC.
In 1990 he and Renaye Kramer became partners in an entertainment complex housed in a historic building in Cape Town’s Waterfront development. Here they opened the DOCK RD THEATRE. Ninety percent of the work staged during the six years of its existence was original South African writing and this vision was pursued without any state subsidy or grant. Fairyland was the first musical production to be staged at the Dock Rd Theatre. It won the FNB Vita Award for Best Musical and played to capacity houses all over South Africa. More than a 1000 performances and three and a half years later it closed in Cape Town.
While Fairyland was running David and Taliep wrote a musical called Poison which tackled the serious social problems of gangsterism and drug abuse on the Cape Flats. In a more light-hearted vein David and Taliep also wrote a musical about the singers of District Six that impersonated famous Americans, called Crooners.
Kat and the Kings was the next winner. In 1997 it was invited to the Tricycle Theatre in London and then transferred to the West End where it won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. It opened at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 1999 and was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards and a Drama League Award. This was the first musical from Cape Town to be staged on the West End and Broadway. One of the many highlights for David was having then President Mandela attend a performance while they were on the West End.
In 1999 David received an award from the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees called Afrikaans Onbeperk, awarded annually to someone who has made a significant contribution to the Afrikaans language.
In 2001, Kramer presented a small show at the KKNK, called Karoo Kitaar Blues. It as a concert presenting the eccentric guitar styles of the Karoo - unique finger-picking and tunings of a marginalised people who live in isolated and impoverished areas and play the “ou liedjies”. This show has now been seen all over South Africa, where it has been performed to sold out houses in every venue. A live CD of the performance has been recorded and the show was awarded 2 FNB Vita Awards. A 90 minute documentary directed by Liza Key about these musicians and David's work with them has been made and has been shown at film festivals in Europe, the UK and the USA.Karoo Kitaar Bluesrecently won the Golden Reel Award for Best Musical Documentary at the 2006 Tiburon International Film Festival in California. It has now been released on DVD.
David has written an Afrikaans musical, Die ballade van Koos Sas, which explores the trade in “Bushmen” skeletons during the early 1900’s, and won the De Kat Herrie Award at the KKNK festival for this production.
He has worked with the very popular stand-up comedian for a number of years, having directed 3 of his shows: From the Cape Flats with Love, Big Stakes and Slap Chips and most recently Hallelujah!.
Huistoe, David's most recent CD release, is essentially about the exploration of roots music that has evolved in the dry and desolate areas of the Karoo. It also explores the lives and history of people that live there.
He received a GMT Lifelong Achievement Award in 2005 for his contribution to Afrikaans music. He has also been honoured by SARRAL (South African Recording Artists Association Ltd) and entered in their Composers Hall of Fame.
GHOEMA is his most recent work in collaboration with Taliep Petersen in which they explore early South African history and celebrate the musical heritage of the Cape. GHOEMA has been written and directed by Kramer, with musical direction by Taliep Petersen. Earlier this year the production was nominated for 7 Fleur du Cap awards. David won for Best Set Design and shared the award for Best Lighting design with Gert du Preez.
Chrizane Geldenhuys, David Kramer2013-01-14Geen video kan wys wat die YouTube-sensasie Johannes Coetzee werklik met 'n blikkitaar en teelepel kan uitvoer nie. Die aalwyntapper van Herbertsdale is een van die talentvolle kunstenaars wat tans saam met David Kramer en die Kalahari Karoo Blues by die Baxter-teater in Kaapstad optree.
David Kramer, Naomi Meyer2011-11-23The name David Kramer is as well-known as Sunlight liquid – people use this name all the time. But do we really know this man behind the familiar bike and the red shoes? The book David Kramer: A Biography has just been launched in Cape Town.