Lovers of classical guitar are in for a treat following the release of Starstruck, the latest album by the multi-international award winning duo CH2. In fact, the band’s 12th album features a number of exciting international, African and local collaborations. The members of CH2, Corneille Hutten and Dirkie Van Staden, are both flawless classical guitarists and have indeed created their own instrumental sound which also mimics drum and bass.
Recently, they received the exciting news that Insomnia, their previous album, has been accepted for nomination for the Grammys in 2020. CH2 has won numerous awards over the years, with 2 x SAMA (South African Music Award) awards for best instrumental / classical album. They’ve also won 2 x Ghoema, Geraas, Oscar and VryFees awards. They have performed on various international tours over the years and enjoy a strong international following across all the continents.
Founding member of CH2, Corneille Hutton, gave me some insight regarding the artists on the new Starstruck album:
This album is truly a constellation of stars- tell us who you were ‘starstruck’ by the most, from those with whom you worked on this album?
I must be honest and say NOMAD. (Michael NOMAD Ripoll , guitarist.) What a musician, producer and engineer! Just one of the nicest and MOST talented people and guitarists I have ever come across. He has worked with some of the top musicians in the world, (for instance, David Foster) but he is still so humble. His biography gives you a sense of “it can’t get any better”.
You collaborate with South African Grammy award winning flautist, Wouter Kellerman. Tell us about the track and this collaboration.
Shape of My Heart is one of Wouter’s favourite Sting tracks and by chance, mine as well. He loved our CH2 version of this song that we arranged years ago and suggested a colab. This version was mixed by myself and mastered by Steven A Williams, engineer to the STARS (Josh Groban, Britney Spears, Seal, Sting, Eric Clapton etc.) It was truly an honour for CH2 to work with Wouter!
An acoustic guitarist also joins you in Starstruck- tell us how this came about, as well as a bit about this particular track.
Marcin Patrzalek (from Poland, winner of the legendary Jon Gomm world acoustic guitar competition) is one of the most incredibly talented young guitarists of our time. He mastered the classical guitar at 16, took up flamenco and then moved on to the percussive finger-style on the acoustic steel string guitar. Asturias is one of the most well known classical guitar pieces of all time: a Classical-Spanish composition by Isaac Albeniz , and he gave it his own unique spin with the percussive steel string playing. We absolutely loved his arrangement and having played the piece myself for years it was pure synchronicity to add CH2 to the Marcin version of Asturias.
Butera Knowless from Rwanda sings a South African favourite, My African Dream. What is different about her rendition for you?
Firstly, Butera has a beautiful tone and a very unique accent when she sings in English. This version is sung purely from her heart and her history with the Rwandan genocide is heard deep in her soul. I wrote a lovely arrangement combining the African and Spanish / Flamenco heritage of instruments which really works perfectly. I used Moroccan castanets, an African jembe and our unique Flamenco style of guitar playing in this track. It’s a fusion of Africa-Latin.
Recently, South African icon, Johnny Clegg passed away- would you consider doing some of his music in the future?
Oh most definitely! He is SUCH a legend and in my eyes such an amazingly talented musician. His songs are so infectious. By chance, the saxophonist that played for Johnny Clegg for many years joins us on this album on our version of Waka Waka. I have already short listed some of Johnny Clegg’s songs down for CH2 to cover in the near future. Watch This Space!
Starstruck is available for purchase via various digital platforms. Here’s a link to those platforms: https://ch2starstruck.hearnow.com/
Hard copies of the album can be bought at their many public gigs, ordered online at http://ch2.bigcartel.com otherwise by clicking the “Shop” button on CH2’s website.