Winanda van Vliet

“Becoming a singer was not so much a choice of career but rather a logical consequence of how I spent my days: singing.”

From close harmony, pop and tango to jazz, musical theatre and Latin American songs. Singer Winanda van Vliet is at home in many genres. Always looking for the specific ‘story’ behind the music. And looking for the lyrics’ core that she conveys on stage with verve and conviction. Winanda combines a southern temperament with Dutch level-headedness. Her clear voice and natural stage presence enable her to captivate a wide audience and win them over.

Oom Maw Maw

The Oom Maw Maw

Pop and jazz

Since studying at the conservatoire Winanda van Vliet has pursued a dizzying career path. In the eighties she became a craze with the vocal jazz and improvisation group TAMAM and performed in major jazz venues and in musical theatre productions. With the a cappella quartet The Oom Maw Maw she interpreted a repertoire varying from close harmony to pop and tango. As one of the three Garlic Sisters she sang pop, soul and jazz repertoire. Their theatrical appearances in their own show or as a guest act added lustre to many a stage from Carré to the Het Muziektheater. She performed in the eighties with jazz star Nedly Elstak’s Several Singers and the Paradise Regained Orchestra on jazz stages and in major venues with The Oom Maw Maw.

Latin-American song

Her great love has always been the Latin American song for which she also has an unprecedented talent. At the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague Winanda met a number of musicians from Chile who had fled their country after the coup in 1973. She was part of the group Amankay founded by Patricio Wang. The group is much heard in demonstrations of solidarity with Chile at home and abroad and has gained worldwide renown. She also performs with various other Chilean musicians such as Isabel Parra and with the group Quilapayún. She shares the podium with Mercedes Soda, who has spoken highly of Winanda’s interpretations of Latin American songs.

Winanda performs many concerts of Latin American music and has produced a number of CDs with La Banda del Sur and her own group Winanda del Sur. Patricio Wang composes and arranges a lot for Winanda del Sur and is co-producer of the CDs such as Luna y Mar, Suite para Violeta, a special project linking songs by Violeta Parra arranged by Patricio Wang with new compositions to create a suite, and Canciones Salvajes, for instrumental ensemble, soloist and choir, again with compositions by Patricio Wang to texts of Pablo Neruda. She has had success with these programmes in Dutch theatres and in Chile.

Cooperation with the Chilean musicians from those early years continues to this very day. Together with a number of Dutch musicians they accompany Winanda on different CDs and a variety of theatre and concert programmes, including her latest CD Wang Songbook, a project by Winanda and Patricio Wang.

Musical theatre

Alongside the music productions of her own ensembles Winanda can also be seen in major third party productions. For example Canto General de Chile and Noche, both with music by Cees Thissen and texts of Pablo Neruda, the RO Theatre’s family show Pinocchio and the musical Cats. In 2013 Winanda played and sang in the musical theatre production Maria Nuñez, Asielzoekster in onze gouden eeuw with arrangements of Sephardic songs and compositions by Patricio Wang.

Besides all these activities Winanda has played in many interactive children’s theatre productions with De Witte Olifant theatre group and Peter Pan Productions. She is also part of the vocal quartet ZZZZAAAA, sound poetry and sound improvisation with Jaap Blonk, Astrid Seriese and Sjabbe van Selfhout.

De 3 zusjes van Vliet
Las tres hermanas van Vliet

Early life

Winanda grew up in a musical protestant family, where after church on Sunday the remainder of the day was spent playing music. She started playing piano at the age of five and was in the ukulele club. As a child she sang at the top of her voice repertoire of Elvis Presley, Anneke Grönloh and Adamo:“I still have my handwritten song books from those days and I can still sing them all. From Elvis and Trini Lopez to Willeke Alberti and Trea Dobs.”

At the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague Winanda studied classical singing but the gap between Winanda’s own singing practice and the classical vocal world was too great. Since there was no possibility then of studying jazz or popular music or ‘light music’ as it was called at the time, she concentrated on music teacher training.

But she could not leave singing alone and after her study she took singing lessons again. She studied singing for many years with among others Hennie Grimijzer, classical singer and at the time singing teacher at the Cabaret Academy in Amsterdam. "The first lesson with Hennie was a revelation. My way of singing was not frowned upon or forbidden, but picked up and extended into a much more relaxed and richer sound pallet. I am very grateful to her for that.”

Vocal coach and teacher

The pedagogic side of her profession has always commanded Winanda’s interest. As vocal coach and teacher she has given guidance to various singers and (musical) theatre groups. She has also conducted many choirs and is regularly asked to do vocal coaching and workshops at home and abroad. From 1995 to 2019 she has been attached to Codarts, University of the arts in Rotterdam as a singing teacher.