Sioen is a Belgian singer songwriter. He brings classic rock. However, in his project "Calling Up Soweto" his music can be classified between classic rock and world music. The use of South African instruments gave a new dimension to his music. Sioen plays with a mixed Belgian and South African band.


When Oxfam Fair Trade asked Sioen (end of 2007) to engage in a project with South African musicians, Sioen was considered a star in his home country Belgium. He had by that time released 3 albums, 2 of which got a Golden record. All of these records were released in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany. The last album was released in France (Polydor). Sioen and band (classic rock formation + violin – piano) had played all the biggest festivals, Rock Werchter even 3 times. He has radio hits that everyone knows, and plays 60 – 80 shows a year in the above mentioned countries.

Sioen – Calling Up Soweto

On invitation of 'One Day For Another World' (OXFAM) Sioen went to the township Soweto in South Africa to set up collaboration with local musicians. He met living legend Pops Mohamed (kora, kalimba, mbira) and Khaya Mahlangu (saxophone player with Hugh Masekela) and together with Stella Khumalo (backing vocalist with Miriam Makeba) he organised an audition in the heart of Soweto to select 4 backing vocalists with an amazing voice.
During the festival 'Gentse Feesten 2008' he brought this group of musicians to Belgium and the energetic and melodic new songs made the concert a great succes and 'talk of the town'. Newspaper 'De Standaard' wrote: "We always sympathise with someone who plays a whole new repertoire in front of an audience. And Sioen succeeded with brilliance!”
And so it happened. Pushed by the enthusiasm of the fans after the concert, Sioen went back to South Africa to record the album ‘Calling Up Soweto’: 'To the township of the townships, where I took my boots. On the train to Naledi, where Jo'burg has its roots. To the sound of revolution and the vibe on the streets. When I'm gone I sing the blues, in Soweto, that's where I lost my shoes'.
Sioen recorded the album with a mixed South African/Belgian band: Pops Mohamed on cora and percussion, Khaya Mahlangu on sax, 4 backing vocals (Abueng Gasta Mkhonza, Duduzile Majola, Vusi Mhcapo and Vuyo Tshumba), all from Soweto and Frederik Segers on guitar, Laurens Smagghe on drums and Mirko Banovic (also bass player for Arno and Arsenal) on bass, all from Gent.
The album was recorded in SABC studios in South Africa. Those are the studios where Paul Simon recorded Graceland 20 years ago. At the moment (march 2009), his first single “Automatic” is doing very well in all major Belgian playlists.
The release concert was something special: the release was held in Ipelegeng Community Center, Soweto. Two support acts completed the concert night: Africapella (sevens africapella singers) and Mak Manaka (famous South African poet). The concert was live streamed by satellite to Belgium. In Belgium people could watch the concert live in Kinepolis Gent, on the internet on Netlog and on digital tv channels Exqi and Canvas + .

Alongside with this album, Sioen is working on a documentary about life in Soweto. This documentary will be sent to major filmfestivals in Belgium and South Africa (Durban Film Festival) later this year.
This documentary is the heart of this project. It’s not a making off, but a musical documentary about the life of our musicians in Soweto. De facto it shows how life is nowadays in Soweto.
It’s the ambition with this project to take this to an international level, as well for the Cd, the concerts as the documentary.
The Cd will be released in Belgium, The Netherlands and France through Bang!. We are looking with our French booker Zamora to also release it in France and Germany.
There’s contacts with South Africa label Sheer Sound to release in South Africa as well.
We will tour extensively throughout Europe with the 10-piece band (4 belgians – 6 south-africans).
We have also found ourselves a South African booker: Eric Motloung (booker of Sean Kuti).
The African Tour Circuit (an organisation that facilitates African bands travelling across the African continent) will also help us in touring in other countries of Africa.
The documentary will be sent to all relevant international Film festivals (staring with Docville in Belgium and Durban Film Festival in South Africa).


30/04/2009 Sioen Soweto - Handelsbeurs - Gent
3/05/2009 Sioen Soweto - AB Brussel
5/05/2009 Bevrijdingsfestival - Den Haag - Nederland
9/05/2009 AB Club - Brussels
25/06/2009 Sioen Soweto - Pennezakkenrock
27/06/09 Couleur Café
28/06/09 Sioen Soweto - Genk On Stage
11/07/09 Sioen Soweto - Grote Markt - Brussel
23/07/09 Sioen Soweto - Kneistival - Knokke
2/08/09 Totaalfestival Bladel - The Netherlands
8/08/2009 Sioen Soweto - Dranouter
8/08/2009 Sioen Soweto - Zeverrock
23/09/09 Heritage day - south Africa (option)
30/9 - 4/10/2009Aardklop - Potchefstroom - South Africa (option)
2/10/09 Macufe Festival - Mangaung - South Africa (option)
03-05/10/2009 Rocking The Daisies - Capetown - South Africa (option)
Belgian Theatre tour 2010:
8/1 CC Aalst
9/1 CC Mechelen
14/1 CC Koksijde (opte)
15/1 CC Scherpe


SIOEN feat. Pops Mohamed & Khaya Mahlangu - CALLING UP SOWETO (2009)