Photo: Inus Grobler

John Graayenstein is Taking Flight

By Lize Bekker

Being a student is quite tricky, but balancing a degree and pursuing a singing career is way trickier. John Graayenstein, a third year BA(Drama and Theatre studies) student at Stellenbosch University, is doing exactly this. 

Graayenstein started singing at the age of five and learned by singing along to classical music playing on the radio and performing in front of his family members. At the age of eight he began vocal lessons  and joined  “Kaapse Klopse”, the celebrated Malay choir thereafter. He noted that this is where he learned to express himself through music. 

“The Malay Choir taught me to really communicate to an audience through singing,” says Graayenstein.

Graayenstein had his first sold-out concert in Bellville at the Our Lady of Fatima Community Hall. This served as a special and full circle moment because he performed in that same hall as a child.

His performance gave him the opportunity to show off his captivating stage presence and interesting stage personality, which he believes “comes from his parents, because they are such lively people.”

He further added, “Our household is so animated and there’s always movement, music and laughing.”

Graayenstein mentioned that his least favourite part about music is the fact that, “there will always be people criticising it.” According to John, the fact that you can tell your story, be on stage and meet amazing new people makes this all worth it. 


Graayenstein’s stated that his biggest influence is Welsh singer Shirley Bassey, who sang the James Bond theme song for Goldfinger. He composes his own songs, and uses them to tell stories of heartbreak and his childhood.  He also notes the importance of being honest and true to yourself as an artist. 

“Truthfulness is the most important thing a musician and [their] music must have,” he says.

His new single FLY was released on the 21 September and is available on Youtube. The song starts off as a soft piano ballad, but John’s captivating vocal performance truly shines in the latter half of the song. Ultimately, the song is about letting go of hardships in order to FLY. John Graayenstein has come a long way; from performing for family to producing his own music and selling out concerts. 


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