Harry Coseman is a Belgian singer, initially known for his renditions of the classic American songbook as well as songs in his native Flemish. An encounter with musician/producer Marc Cortens in 2018, however, led to an unusual idea: how about taking the classic melodies of Johann Strauss and creating modern, new songs with them?
“Spontaneously, I’ve always tended towards singers such as Frank Sinatra, Englebert Humperdinck, Tom Jones but also Jamie Cullum,” explains Coseman. “So this was new.” He had another surprise in store. Rather than simply imitate the 19th century melodies, Cortens and his team revitalized the songs, bringing them a whole new meaning. “What’s the point of pretending we’re in 1870-something?” he asks. “We live in a more exciting time.”
The voice of Strauss
The repertoire that Coseman now sings is based on the timeless Strauss waltzes. But when it came down to the polkas, the team decided to have some fun. “If you look at the Strauss family at the time, they gave very contemporary titles to some of their tunes; they were very much a family of their time,” says Coseman. “So we went all the way and added contemporary themes such as social media and speed dating – things that changed our societies as much as, say, electricity or steam trains in their day.”
The result is the album “Harry Coseman: The Voice of Strauss”, a collection of Strauss’ best-loved melodies recorded with lyrics. The first single in 2020 was “Come to Me”, a reworking of “Wiener Blut”. In April 2020, he then released “Blue Danube of Mine”, with a video recorded in Los Angeles’ “dry river”.
After completing a musical documentary about the Strauss family to be called “Strauss vs Strauss”, the next step is to get out on the road – the place where Coseman is most comfortable. “Nothing can beat singing to an audience in a theater,” he says. “It’s where the magic happens.”