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Denise Jannah

Denise Jannah - foto Ron Jenner
Denise Jannah - foto Ron Jenner

(Suriname, 1956), a Dutch jazz singer and voice teacher of Surinemese origin, has performed around the world for Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, among others. From 2013 to 2016 she toured the Netherlands with Ella!, a production that will be staged again in 2017, the centenary of Ella Fitzgerald's birth. Jannah won two Edisons and appeared seven times at the North Sea Jazz Festival. She was the first Dutch performer to land a record contract with the prestigious jazz label Blue Note. Jannah has performed with musicians such as Chick Corea, Frank Boeijen, the Rosenberg Trio and Willem Breuker. For this festival in 2002, she set poems to music from the Netherlands, Suriname, the Antilles, South Africa and Indonesia. She took the same program to literary festivals in Utrecht, Suriname, the Antilles, South Africa and Indonesia. In 2015 she toured Russia and appeared in Dutch theatres in a musical production about the battle for emancipation of two women in Suriname.

(WU 2017)

Archive available for: Denise Jannah

  • Winternachten 2017

    World Stories at Dakota Theatre

    With: Denise Jannah, Francis Broekhuijsen, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

    There's nothing better than telling one another stories in these times of selfies and snapchat! World Stories now has become a beautiful tradition at Dakota Theatre: bring along an object that has a good story attached to it and tell it!

    Denise Jannah starts off the afternoon with her story, and of course she sings for us too. Young poetry talent Marieke Rijneveld - winner of the C.Buddingh' Prize 2016 for the best Dutch-language poetry debut for her poem collection Kalfsvlies - will read from her work, just like the Haagse Hogeschool students from drama teacher Martine Zeeman. Host Francis Broekhuijsen sends a warm invitation your way! A programme in Dutch - For English storytelling see 'World Stories in ISS".

  • Winternachten 2013

    Writers' Fest 2013

    With: Bart Moeyaert, Denise Jannah, Ellen Deckwitz, Guus Janssen, Jaap Cohen, Joke van Leeuwen, Lucas Hüsgen, Marja Pruis, Nico Dijkshoorn, Pieter Steinz, Roland Colastica, Ronald Giphart, Stephan Enter, Wouter Godijn

    The festival closes with a Writers' Fest in the Koninklijke Schouwburg. A programme around Dutch literature, with performances by among others Joke van Leeuwen, Nico Dijkshoorn, Ronald Giphart, Bart Moeyaert, jazz singer Denise Jannah and pianist and composer Guus Janssen. 


    What is the state of affairs in Dutch letters? At the beginning of the year we take stock. Writer and critic Marja Pruis gives her vision on how Dutch literature fares. With music and readings we honour three great writers and poets who passed away in 2012. Queen of jazz and singer Denise Jannah, accompanied by guitarist Robby Alberga, sings a poem by Gerrit Komrij, Holland's foremost poet and promotor of Dutch poets and poetry. Composer and pianist Guus Janssen honours the prolific Dutch writer  Bernlef with a composition for voice and piano. And we'll listen to a recording of poet Rutger Kopland, the grand old man of Dutch poetry. Curaçaoan writer and actor Roland Colastica, who made his debut last year with the children's novel Vuurwerk in mijn hoofd (Fireworks in my Head), tells us a story about his mother tongue, Papiamento, how as a child he got to know Dutch literature, on the importance of reading and telling stories. 

    Presentation of the The Hague literary prizes
    Four writers are awarded with a prize today: Stephan Enter is recipient of the F. Bordewijk Prize for his novel Grip, Wouter Godijn receives the Jan Campert Prize for his book of poetry Hoe H.H. de wereld redde (How H.H. Saved the World), and Lucas Hüsgen receives the J. Greshoff Prize for contemplative prose for his book Nazi te Venlo (Nazi in Venlo). Multitalent Joke van Leeuwen is recipient of the Constantijn Huygens Prize for her entire oeuvre. The afternoon closes with her theatrical word of thanks: a unique performance by Van Leeuwen,  this writer, poet,  illustrator and comedian. In cooperation with the Nederlands Letterenfonds, Stichting Lezen and the Jan Campert Stichting. The prizes are given by the alderman for culture of The Hague, Marjolein de Jong.

  • Winternachten 2013

    VPRO OVT Live

    With: Denise Jannah, Frank Westerman, Lucas Hüsgen, Mathijs Deen, Nelleke Noordervliet, Onno Blom, Paul van der Gaag

    One of the best listened to programmes of Radio I is VPRO's O.V.T, present perfect tense, or open past. Every Sunday morning the topicality of history occupies centre stage. It's a tradition now that the programme makers move to the heart of The Hague during the festival to broadcast live from Café Brasserie Dudok. This time the focus is on Lucas Hüsgen (writer of Nazi te Venlo), on the Dutch author Gerrit Komrij, who died last year,  and on the work of Polish writer and journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski. There is live music by jazz singer Denise Jannah, accompanied by guitarist Robby Alberga. Paul van der Gaag and Mathijs Deen are the familiar hosts. Open to the public, admission free, including coffee and cake. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2013 – Winternacht 2 - schrijvers, muziek en film op vijf podia

    Denise Jannah: The text of my life

    'Voor een dag van morgen', the Dutch poem by Hans Andreaus is a text that jazz singer Denise Jannah his lived with for a long time. She even put it to music. Why? She will tell you, and interviewers Manon Uphoff and Aleid Truijens. In Dutch.

  • Suriname 2004

    1001 identities - opening night

    With: Arlette Codfried, Cynthia McLeod, Dansgroep Tandava, Denise Jannah, EKM Dido, Fafiri Brothers, Frits Wols, Gibi Bacilio, Joke van Leeuwen, Rappa, Ronald Giphart, Sitok Srengenge

    The first night of the festival in Paramaribo offers a diverse program. Writers from five countries read from their novels and poetry. Hosted and presented by Arlette Codfried they talk about their own country and how people from different cultures live together there. Denise Jannah sings poems chosen from poets that represent the five different countries participating in this ffestival, amongst others from the winner of the State literature prize Orlando Emanuels. Cynthia McLeod, Rappa, Surianto and Frits Wols perform together with their foreign colleague writers Gibi Bacilio (Curaçao), EKM Dido (South Africa), Ronald Giphart (The Netherlands), Joke van Leeuwen (The Netherlands) and Sitok Srengenge (Indonesia). The dance group Tandava dances poems from Slory and Shrinivasi. The Fafiri Brothers will provide further musical accompaniment.

  • Suriname 2004

    District commissionership Nickerie - literary evening

    With: Arlette Codfried, Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, EKM Dido, Gibi Bacilio, Rappa, Ronald Giphart, Sitok Srengenge

    An international program with readings by writers and poets and music, presented by Arlette Codfried. The Surinam authors Cynthia McLeod and Rappa perform together with poet/performer Gibi Bacilio from Curaçao, writer EKM Dido from Capetown, the Dutch best-selling author Ronald Giphart and one of the foremost poets from Indonesia, the Javanese Sitok Srengenge. Jazz-diva Denise Jannah presents a special program of her own, consisting of poems from five countries set to her own music.

  • Winternachten 2004

    Poems analysed and put to music

    With: Adriaan van Dis, Denise Jannah, Gerrit Komrij, Toef Jaeger

    Everything you always wanted to know, but never dared to ask. Writers Adriaan van Dis and Gerrit Komrij give a lesson in poetry. For and with the audience, they each analyse one poem from world literature on the theme of dreams and ideals. In the second part of this programme jazz singer Denise Jannah wil put one of the poems to music. For this she makes use of the analysis of Van Dis and Komrij, and she will make use of the the audience participation. The poems will be on this website in the week before the festival and will be handed out to the audience.

  • Winternachten 2004

    Winternachten - Preview

    With: Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Antjie Krog, Chirikure Chirikure, Denise Jannah, Lasana M. Sekou, Michaël Zeeman, Nelleke Noordervliet, Putu Wijaya, Robert Menasse, Syahrial & Grup, Tessa Leuwsha, Tom Gilling, Zakes Mda

    Before Winternachten starts with its major programme, the journalist and literary critic Michaël Zeeman gives his view on the theme of this year's festival: future and ideals. After this, writer Nelleke Noordervliet presents a varied programme with writers, poets and music. Foreign authors present themselves with a short reading, as a preview on their performance in the coming weekend. With writers from Suriname, Saint Martin, South-Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, Austria, the USA and Indonesia, and music by the Sumatran group Syahrial & Grup and jazz singer Denise Jannah.

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Denise Jannah sings poetry

    Denise Jannah sings poems, put to music by herself, from the Netherlands, Surinam, the Dutch Antilles, Aruba, South Africa and Indonesia. The poems are from amongst others Vasalis, Gerrit Komrij, Frank Martinus Arion (Curaçao), Celestine Raalte (Surinam), Sitok Srengenge (Indonesia), Ruby Bute (St. Martin) and C. Louis Leipoldt (South-Africa). She travels through languages and countries, but also through different musical styles: from blues to Caribean walz and from jazz to hiphop and latin. For Denise a poem must remain a poem "I take care that the poem is not lost in a surplus of music or an excess of notes. It should certainly not lose its form." Since 2001, on invitation of Winternachten to put poems to music, Denise Jannah has performed with her singing poetry programme in festivals in South Africa, the Dutch Antilles, Surinam and Indonesia. Tonight she presents her CD Gedicht - gezongen (Poem, sung) wich is a collection of poems to music. Denise is accompanied by guitar, bass and percussion.

  • Indonesië 2003

    Winternachten Overseas at the Erasmushuis - Jakarta

    With: Adriaan van Dis, Changa Hickinson, Chitra Gajadin, Denise Jannah, K. Sello Duiker

    Als afsluiting van de Indonesië-tournee vindt in het Erasmushuis (verbonden aan de Nederlandse Ambassade) een avond plaats rond het thema 'The Dutch connection'. Een avond met voordracht en gesprekken met Adriaan van Dis, Sello Duiker (Zuid-Afrika), Changa Hickinson (Sint Maarten) en Chitra Gajadin (Suriname/Nederland). Denise Jannah zingt poëzie uit de verschillende landen.

    De voorgedragen proza-teksten en gedichten worden simultaan in Indonesische vertaling geprojecteerd. De gesprekken worden in het Engels gevoerd (met samenvattende vertaling in het Indonesisch) met de Indonesische gespreksleider Nono Anwar Makarim.

  • Indonesië 2003

    Winternachten Overseas in Teater Utan Kayu - Jakarta

    With: Adriaan van Dis, Changa Hickinson, Chitra Gajadin, Denise Jannah, K. Sello Duiker

    Het festival Utan Kayu Literary Biennale 2003 vindt gedurende drie dagen plaats in Teater Utan Kayu in Jakarta. Het theater is een cultureel centrum dat kort voor de val van Soeharto werd opgericht. Het wil een vrijplaats zijn voor debat, literatuur, film, theater en muziek. Twee jaar geleden vond hier het eerste literatuurfestival plaats, in samenwerking met Winternachten.

    Dit jaar komen de schrijvers behalve uit Indonesië ook uit Maleisië, Duitsland, Oostenrijk, en - via de samenwerking met Winternachten - uit Suriname, de Antillen, Zuid-Afrika en Nederland. De 'Winternachten-groep' treedt op verdeeld over de avonden, met voordracht uit het werk (in simultaanprojectie vertaald naar het Indonesisch), en zang van Denise Jannah, begeleid door lokale musici.

  • Indonesië 2003

    Winternachten Overseas in Solo

    With: Adriaan van Dis, Changa Hickinson, Chitra Gajadin, Denise Jannah, K. Sello Duiker

    Op twee avonden treedt de groep schrijvers uit Nederland, Suriname, de Antillen en Zuid-Afrika op met lokale dichters uit de regio Solo (Java). Denise Jannah zingt poëzie op muziek, begeleid door lokale musici.

  • Indonesië 2003

    Winternachten Overseas on Bali

    With: Adriaan van Dis, Changa Hickinson, Chitra Gajadin, Denise Jannah, K. Sello Duiker

    Voorafgaand aan de optredens van de schrijvers in Bali, geeft zangeres Denise Jannah workshops poëzie en muziek aan Balinese studenten.

    Behalve de Winternachten-schrijvers treden op deze avonden ook schrijvers op uit Oostenrijk, Maleisië en Indonesië. Denise Jannah treedt op met haar gedichten op muziek, begeleid door lokale musici.

  • Antillen 2003

    Krusa Laman - Curaçao - writers evening

    With: Barche Baromeo, Changa Hickinson, Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, Frank Martinus Arion, Gibi Bacilio, Laura Quast, Lupe Reyes, Nelleke Noordervliet, Rayda Jacobs, Roland Colastica, Sitok Srengenge

    An evening with readings by writers and poets from South Africa, Suriname, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. With a performance by the Surinamese jazz-singer Denise Jannah, accompanied by local musicians. Jannah sang poems from Suriname, the Antilles and South Africa, accompanied by the Curacaoan guitarist Pierre Dunker and percussionist Ernie Gregorio . The programme was presented by Roland Colastica.

  • Antillen 2003

    Krusa Laman - Curaçao - opening evening

    With: Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, Frank Martinus Arion, Nelleke Noordervliet, Rayda Jacobs, Roland Colastica, Sitok Srengenge

    In co-operation with Teatro Luna Blou. Frank Martinus Arion, writer from Curaçao, lead a discussion on the theme 'from fact to fiction', with writers Cynthia McLeod (Suriname), Rayda Jacobs (South-Africa) and Nelleke Noordervliet (Netherlands). These writers, and the Indonesian Sitok Srengenge, read from their work. Also a performance of the Surinamese jazz-singer Denise Jannah, accompanied by the Curaçaoan guitarist Pierre Dunker and percussionist Ernie Gregorio. Jannah sang poems from Suriname, the Antilles, the Netherlands and South-Africa. Presented by Roland Colastica.

  • Antillen 2003

    Krusa Laman - Bonaire

    With: Bòi Antoin, Cecilia Everts, Changa Hickinson, Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, Lupe Reyes, Nelleke Noordervliet, Rayda Jacobs, Roland Colastica, Sitok Srengenge

    An evening with readings by writers and poets from South Africa, Suriname, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire. With a performance by the Surinamese jazz-singer Denise Jannah, accompanied by local musicians. Jannah will sing poems from Suiname, the Antilles and South Africa. The programme was presented by Roland Colastica.

  • Antillen 2003

    Crusa Lama - Aruba

    With: Barche Baromeo, Changa Hickinson, Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, Giolina Henriquez, Jacques Thönissen, Jossy Tromp, Nelleke Noordervliet, Rayda Jacobs, Roland Colastica, Sitok Srengenge

    An evening with readings by writers and poets from South Africa, Suriname, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba. With a performance by the Surinamese jazz-singer Denise Jannah, accompanied by local musician Ivan Jansen. Jannah will sing poems from Suiname, the Antilles and South Africa. The programme was presented by Roland Colastica.

  • Antillen 2003

    Crossing the Seas - Sint Maarten

    With: Changa Hickinson, Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, Frank Martinus Arion, Ian Valz, Joy Reiph-Arnell, Lyzanne Charles, Nelleke Noordervliet, Rayda Jacobs, Sitok Srengenge

    An evening with readings by writers and poets from South Africa, Suriname, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. With a performance by the Surinamese jazz-singer Denise Jannah, accompanied by Anastacia Larmonie. Jannah sang poems from Suiname, the Antilles and South Africa. The programme was presented by Joy Reiph-Arnell.

  • Zuid-Afrika 2002

    Cape Town Festival - Cape Town

    With: Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, Frank Martinus Arion, Henk van Woerden, Michaël Zeeman, Seno Gumira Ajidarma

    The Cape Town Festival (16 to 24 March 2002) is an annual multidisciplinary festival. This year Winternachten took care of the literary programme: a two day festival called Trade Winds, a sumptuous literary feast with spoken word, music, and video (Passaatwinde - 'n vrolijke fees rondom die gesproke woord, musiek en video).

    The festival offerd - similar to theWinternachten festival in The Hague)-a parallel programme on three stages, withstand-up comedy, video, music, performing poets and discussions with writers. Michaël Zeeman presented a number of talks of the 'Winternachten-writers' with their South African collegues. Henk van Woerden and André Brink discussed 'rewriting history'; Cynthia McLeod met her fellow-writer E.K.M. Dido in a talk about'breaking down stereotypes'. Frank Martinus Arion discussed the subject of 'creolisation and hybridity' with Achmat Dangor andthe Indonesian writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma met his fellow jazzy writer Keorapetse Kgositsile, discussing writing on'jazz and struggle'.

    The VPRO documentary'Korreltjie Niks is my Dood' bySaskia van Schaik onthe South African poet Ingrid Jonker, had its South African premiere, with an introduction by its scenarist Henk van Woerden.

    Jazz singer Denise Jannah sang her poems set to music, accompanied by Cape Town based musicians. Other participating writers and performers were Gcina Mhlope, Jeremy Cronin, Gert Vlok-Nel, Loit Sôls & Jethro, Mark Lottering and Dianna Ferrus. The audience danced into the night withmusic by DJ Jools en DJ Mtone Edjabe.

  • Zuid-Afrika 2002

    Time of the Writer - Durban

    With: Cynthia McLeod, Denise Jannah, Frank Martinus Arion, Henk van Woerden, Michaël Zeeman, Seno Gumira Ajidarma

    In the festival Time of the Writer (11 to 16 March) in Durban Winternachten presented the evening programme 'Rewriting History - the Dutch Connection'.

    Michaël Zeeman moderated the conversation with the four writers, who share the theme of 'rewriting history'. Jazz singer Denise Jannah performed with South African musicians. She sang love-poems frombSurinamese, Dutch, Afrikaans and Antillian literature, selected for her by the Dutch poetbGerrit Komrij. The South-African writer Nadine Gordimer also performed in this programme, reading from her literary work.

    In this week the four writers, Michaël Zeemanand singer Denise Jannah also gave workshops and readings at universities, schools for journalism and secondary schools in the city and in the townships. They also gave workshops foraspirant writers, and took part in a conference for writers and publishers. Denise Jannah gavea workshop with a youth choir, and presented the results in the festival.

    Winternachten-photographer Serge Ligtenberg joined the group to Durban to teach two young students of photography the skill of theatre photography.

  • Winternachten 2002 – Winternacht 1

    Denise Jannah sings Komrij's choice

    The greatest Dutch jazz singer sang poems about passion and love from Surinam, South African, Antillean and Dutch literature. The poems have been chosen by Gerrit Komrij. In a second set she sang her own repertoire.