“Music can be a cure to a broken heart, it soothes the soul and the pain within,” says 74-year-old Bellville gospel singer Drieka Golden.
Drieka, who entertains seniors at old-age homes in the northern suburbs, says her music is a form of therapy that helps her audiences to reflect on their past and remember the good times in their lives.
“They enjoy the times I visit their homes; we enjoy singing the golden oldies and dancing till we are tired,” she says.
But behind the happy memories she conjures up for those she sings for, there is plenty of heartache.
Originally from Johannesburg, Drieka moved to Brackenfell after losing all three of her children.
In 1980, her two daughters, aged 12 and 13, died in a car accident, and her eldest son was shot when he was 22, just a few years after she and her husband got a divorce.
In November last year, Drieka moved to Bellville Senior Centre.
She knows the power music has — many the time it’s been a “good jam or gospel song of encouragement” that has carried her through her years of loneliness and suffering.
In the same way, she says, “music helped me cope through my childhood too: my younger brother drowned in a river and my little sister fell ill. They both died at age 7”.
In 2007, Drieka started composing her own songs, and with the little she knows about playing instruments, she completed 17 songs for an album, Kruispaaie.
“My dad showed me how to play the violin, a bit of guitar, piano, and I played the organ at our church, but I cannot read music and never had any training, I guess this is just my gift from God,” says Drieka. Later she created a gospel sing-along DVD, Kruispaaie deur Tannie Drieks, with Bible stories and words of encouragement.
Kruispaaie is a blend of country music and soft jazz, but Drieka says her inspiration for the album was Céline Dion, whom she says has the voice of an angel.
“I have always liked Céline Dion. If I had a voice like hers, I know I would be famous, but I am a boeremeisie with a deeper voice.
“I am not a youngster anymore, I am just on the wrong side of the 50s.
“Ek is nie meer ’* jong bokkie nie, but I will continue sharing my music with people in my community to help them cope with daily struggles.
“Sometimes I think of myself as a performer or even a comedian. Mense hou van my grappies.”
Then she starts to sing. “Amazing Grace… how sweet the sound…” That song, she says, has helped her through many dark moments in her life.
If you would like to get your hands on her DVD for R120, the album for R80 or need some words of encouragement, email Drieka at email@example.com or call 021 917 1790.