Petronel Baard is a survivor. There’s something about her eyes that hint at a life spent learning hard lessons. The optimism and self-confidence she wears are hard-won.
She’s in town touring her one-woman show, Miss Déjà Vu, at Baran’s Theatre Restaurant. It’s an acoustic revue of classics like Wind Beneath My Wings, Autumn Leaves and Love Story. She also performs her own compositions. These include the haunting Rebecca’s Gaze and Voluit Mens. The show is an absolute delight. The best part is her breezy stage manner and consummate show-womanship. It looks as if she were born on the stage.
“I’ve been singing since I was a pikkertjie,” she says. “My first audience was with the trees and mountains in the Overberg where I grew up. When I was still a tiny girl I used to thump the keys on the piano and sing along. Lord only knows what I was playing but I loved it.”
She studied drama and music at Stellenbosch University and finished up with an honours degree in cabaret and directing. While at university she entered the ATKV Crescendo Competition. She ended up winning this national music competition and was able to record her Sama- nominated debut album, Lank Al. “Recording the album was very challenging,” she recalls. “I was forced to make a lot of very big decisions very quickly. But so many good things came from that.”
She says she can’t think of anything she’d rather be doing and is planning on making music her life until she keels over. However, as anyone who’s had a passing interest in the local music scene knows, it’s hard to make a decent living out of your passion in this country.
“Ag well, there are so many things counting against you that you have to know this is what you’re willing to bleed for. Passion is the most important thing. But I know it’s important to have other things on the go too.”
These “other things” include a theatre-restaurant venue she’s hoping to launch in the platteland.
“I’d love to contribute to the place where I grew up. Who knows, I may be able to retire there,” she smiles.