CD’s – Spirit of Piaf and songs from other French Legends


“Spirit of Piaf and songs from other French Legends”
This is a CD I have always wanted to make. Since the age of six I have been entranced by Piaf’s music and at the age of 18 wrote for her.

Yours was a honey-coloured clown spirit
contained in a fragile sparrow shell.
You transcended earth every time you solar-plexus sang.
But the sadness-dark only could be found
hidden in the shadows of your voice,
in the silent corners
of your almond eyes

Meeting up with American folk-legend Shawn Phillips in November 2005, was incredible and his reaction to my singing of Piaf …

“My dear, what you create is mystery …” made me decide it was time at last for a “pure” Piaf CD.

I have used South Africa’s top studio performance musicians from classical to light music and given this European genre a “kwela” feel on some numbers with the renowned Soweto String Quartet and a truly South African feel with Nico Blom’s “konsertina”. At the same time, I have kept a French atmosphere with the brilliant musicianship of Sergio Zampolli on piano accordion and the polished strings distinctively arranged by Alwyn van Heerden, whose inimitable piano playing can also be heard. The superb drums of Rob Watson and the distinctive sound of Concord Nkabinde and Denny Lalouette on bass guitar is also featured. Finally, Riek Barnard added his own flavour on guitar and as always, Cesar d’Almeida inspired this ninth CD with him at the helm with distinctive mixture of genres and sound.

After completing Spirit of Piaf, we realised that there was room for another: the songs of the great French legends – Aznavour’ s well-loved She, Francoise Hardy’s hit song, Ton meilleur ami, the timeless Les moulins de mon coeur (Windmills of my mind) and Brel’s profound, Ne me quitte pas (If you go away) and Seasons in the Sun. This second CD – the French legends has a modern but laid back feel featuring the masterful guitar of Willem Fourie and Graham Currie’s double bass, reminiscent of Paris – the cobbled streets of Montmartre glimmering softly in the light of street lanterns, the Seine and its many bridges, steaming coffee and the Arc de Triomphe. This double album is truly a tour de force of French songs distinctively captured by Junior Botha’s off-beat arrangements.


  1. Non je Ne Regrette Rien –C.Dumont/M.Vaucaire/SDRM/Peer
  2. Milord
  3. La Vie en Rose – Louigauy/piaf/sdrm/ Gay Noel Music Co/ H. Fox
  4. Padam.. Padam
  5. Hymne a L’Amour – M. Monnot/G. Parsons/Piaf
  6. L’Accordeoniste
  7. Mon Dieu – C. Dumont/M. Vaucaire/ Nouvelle Peer
  8. Exodus
  9. Les Flons-Flons du Bal
  10. Les AmantsD’Un Jour
  11. MonManege A Moi
  12. Non je Ne Regrette Rien (Live)


  1. La Mer
  2. Chanson D’Amour
  3. Et Maintenant
  4. L’Excessive
  5. Plaisir d’Amour
  6. Ne Me Quitte Pas
  7. L’Ete Indien
  8. Seasons in the Sun
  9. Ton Meilleur Ami
  10. Les Moulins de Mon Coeur
  11. Suzanne
  12. She


  • Vocals – Helena Hettema
  • Vocals on duets: Michel Vincent and Helena Hettema : La Mer, L’ete Indien, Les moulins de mon Coeur, Suzanne, She.
  • Michel Vincent: refinement of French pronunciation
  • Guitar, Soprano Saxophone–Willem Fourie
  • Drums – Rob Watson
  • Double Bass – Graham Currie
  • French Accordion – Sergio Zampolli
  • Keyboards: Edwin Randall
  • Harmonies: Suzanne – Luna
  • Music Arrangements,
  • Engineering and CD Conception: –Junior Botha Studio – Pipemusic – (012) 343-6378


  • Helena Hettema – Vocals and Harmonies
  • Alwyn van Heerden – Piano and arranger on Strings
  • Denny Lalouette – Bass Guitar
  • Except- Concorde Nkabinde – Bass Guitar- Milord, Love is Like Champagne
  • Sergio Zampolli – French style Piano Accordion
  • Rob Watson – Drums
  • Soweto String Quartet –Reuben Khemese (Cello)
  • Sandile Khemese (1st Violin)
  • Thami Khemese (2nd Violin)
  • Makhosini Mnguni (viola)
  • Strings
  • Evert van Niekerk – Violin
  • Jeanne-Louise Moolman – Viola
  • Susan Mouton – Cello

On – Non je ne regrette rien, L’Accordioniste, La Vie en Rose, Hymne à l’Amour, Mon Dieu and Exodus Nico Blom – “Konsertina” (concertina), Les Flons-Flons du Bal

Riek – Acoustic Guitar – Milord – Electric Guitar – L’Accordioniste

Engineering –Piaf CD César’s Sound – conception of CD and recording of all instruments – (012) 804-4447

Engineering of Piaf vocals -Shawn Philllips
Recorded at Fat Jack Studios, Port Elizabeth
Except (Milord and Non je ne regrette rien – Cesar’s Sound)

VONK Sept 2007 – Ilza Roggeband
“Die album word oorheers deur Piaf en as daar ‘n vrou is wat dit mag doen is dit Helena Hettema … dit is ‘n album vir romantiese siele…vir luister.”:

BEELD 15 Augustus 2007-Anna-Retha Bouwer
“Hettema verlei met ‘n sensuele CD – gee met haar diep stem, lang rollende r’e en ‘n allemintige klomp instrumente lewe aan Piaf.”

VROUEKEUR – 9 Nov 2007-CjtheDJ – Oppinoot
“Sy beskik oor die perfekte timbre in haar vertolkings … puik produksie …met ‘n wêreldklas interpretasie en meevoerend vertolking…wat stem, sield en t3gniek in luisterryke kuns verwerk.”

CLASSIC FEEL – Oct 2007 “New and exciting”
“Helena Hettema is one of SA’s most accomplished cabaret artists …album can be commended for its superb quality of find musicianship. Her Piaf playfully included a SA feel as the Soweto String Quartet adds a delightful Kwela twist…”

Her interpretations of the music of Brel and Piaf are almost legendary. She is one of South Africa’s glossy by-products of the cabaret circuit- Rooi Rose

“She has mastered Brel – made it (the music) her own – Noord-Transvaler Metro