Edel was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia. Her grandfather was a pioneer coming into Rhodesia with the Moodie Trek to Melsetter, where my father was born, being the 10th child to be born there. Grandfather originally hailed from Scotland. Rhodesia was going through a recession and Edel landed up in an orphanage at the age of 5 with her elder brother, John. After one term there, the two children were sent to Umvuma boarding school. After a further two terms, they were on the move again, this time to boarding school in Sinoia and, after that, Fort Victoria school. About two years later the children returned to Umtali in the Eastern District where Edel finished school at the age of 15.
Edel’s first talent competition was in Beira whilst on holiday there with many otherl children from Salisbury. She was 8 years old and sang “One Day When We Were Young”. She can remember singing for as far back as her memory goes. She recalls her mother waking me up when she had guests to come and sing for them. Whilst still at school in Umtali, she sang in a concert at the school at the age of 13. She also participated in the school show, “Midsummer Night’s Dram”.
At the age of 16, Edel decided to take singing lessons with Madam Gera Fouche and entered Eistedfods. She sang operatic songs, as she wanted to make this a career. At one of these events, an Adjudicator, a Professor, approached her and advised her to get a good teacher as she had the potential to do well. She took this advice and went for singing lessons. Edel continued to perform at Eistedfods until she was 25 years old. Her desire to follow singing as a career was unabated with opera songs being her main interest. She was a coloratura and loved to sing these songs. Unfortunately, money was a constraint and young people of that era didn’t enjoy the opportunities available to young people today.
In 1960 Edel moved to Bulawayo where she joined the Theatre Club. Did shows, one was “South Pacific”. And it was here that she met her future husband, Paul Krige. They were both participating in “The Mikado” at the time. The year was 1961 and Paul was in the role of Nankipoo and Edel was one of the little maids. Their first date was on 27th July, 1961!
Paul was a product of Prince Edward School in Salisbury and during his term there, did school concerts. After his graduation he joined the Royal Navy and was posted in the Far East. After the war was over, he went to UK and tried to pursue his singing career. He was accepted in the Doyley Carte company. Unfortunately for him, the fog in London affected his chest and he couldn’t stay and returned to Rhodesia. He then went mining in the Karoi district and whilst there participated in local shows.
Drawn together by their common love of singing and theatre productions, Paul and Edel started to sing together. After our marriage in November 1963, we went to manage Shepherd’s Hotel in Fort Victoria. This they did, together with Paul’s brother, for six months. Edel, however, developed a neck problem so they returned to Bulawayo. We were requested to sing on Saturday nights at the Carlton Hotel, doing two shows every time. John Aldridge was our accompanist. We had people standing at the door – even from the Warnborough Mansion Hotel – what a surprise! This they did for three months . During this time they did two Variety shows, the opening choruses composed by me, one was “Love in June”, and, the other, “Springtime”, which was performed at the Bulawayo Courtauld Theatre.
At this stage, Paul was asked to manage an Emerald Mine in Filabusi, so, once again, the couple were on the move. Whilst living in Filabusi, we were invited to sing at the Mayor’s Christmas TV show in Bulawayo, which was “live” in those days. The well known South African musical duo, Des and Dawn Lindberg, were there one time as well. Paul and Edel did a number of other TV shows and Edel remembers singing a French song, after only having had two days to memorise the words!
It was whilst at Filabusi that Edel wrote and composed an original musical show “The Heritage”. She is still amazed at the fact that she managed to produced such a work and says that “…the music, lyrics appeared out of nowhere”. The scene was set in Vineyards – she hadn’t ever been to one at that stage! – and was produced in Filabusi. Members of the Bulawayo Theatre Club travelled to Filabusi to watch one of the performances, later requesting her to enlarge the script for a bigger stage as they wanted to put it on in Bulawayo. This was subsequently been done. Whilst Edel can read music and write it she isn’t a good piano player or guitarist, weaknesses she ascribes to being self taught.
After UDI was declared, the Filabusi mine shut down and the couple returned to Bulawayo. During this time, they were requested to enter a competition composing the Selukwe school song, which Edel did – and duly won! This now appears on an LP “Selukwe School Sings Again”. Sponsored by Rhodesia Chrome Mines Ltd During the ‘70’s, she and Paul were asked to do a Soiree in Norward at the house of our singing teacher Barbara (?). This event was a great success. In the same period, the duo were invited to sing at a concert in Umtali titled “Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild Wild Women”! That sounds like it must have been quite a night!
In February 1970 Fr. Elmar from the Catholic Cathedral, approached the Kriges to start a Folk Mass. It was completely new idea and, having mulled over it, Paul and Edel decided to do this for lent. They subsequently started the Folk Mass, (this was a true first as even South Africa did not have a folk mass at that time). This gatherings were an immediate success and with attendances growing and growing, the church was packed with even standing room being fully subscribed. Six months later, they advised Fr. Elmar they’d be moving on as the Folk Mass concept had taken root and would continue with a momentum of its own.
In his response, Fr. Elmar asked Edel to “Come with me”. She duly followed him to the office behind the alter to the office whereupon he presented her with a Yahama Guitar!! That immediately changed her mind about leaving the Folk Mass scene and she decided, there and then, that she had to learn to play the guitar. As a result, she and Paul continued to conduct the Folk Masses for another ten years!
Their talents and popularity extended way beyond their choral achievements and activities, and they made regular, and numerous, appearances on Rhodesia Television (the annual Club International and Mayor’s Christmas Shows, for instance) and worked tirelessly throughout their years together.
During this time we made two LPs, “When You Walk in Love”, and a Christmas one called “Noel”. They continued to sing for concerts, weddings and funerals and Edel composed the music for the “Our Father” on their first LP. The couple were privileged to perform at all their children’s marriages which they considered to be “quite a blessing”.
When Zimbabwe gained Independence the couple left and emigrated to South Africa in September 1980, taking up residence in Johannesburg . Here, they joined the Victory Park parish and did the Folk Mass there for 27 years at the venue known as the “Lemon Squeezer!”. During this time they recorded two more LPs – “We Believe in Tomorrow” and “Hand in Hand”. They also appeared on local TV shows such as “Brokkies” and “Hosanna” as well. During this time Fr. Fidgeon gave Edel piano, which she still has to this day.
Taking advantage of evolving technologies, Edel and Paul have a video on You Tube of “Hand in Hand” and iTtunes has the full songs of the LP. “Hand in Hand”, put on there by Trio Records. The LP’s, “When you Walk in Love” and “Noel”, were recorded at Kwanongoma Sound Studio and published by St. Mary’s Cathedral, Bulawayo. The LP, “We Believe in Tomorrow”, was done privately through Johnny Gibson and John B. Ferrier. The LP “Hand in Hand” was released through Trio Records. These were all Christian songs. Edel, by her own admission, says that she has no idea how well they sold as all the proceeds were donated to the church.
In September, 2005, the couple moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town where they continued to perform at various functions. Their last performance together was in June, 2007, as Paul had been diagnosed with cancer which would lead to his passing on 23 October, 2007. She and Paul performed as a vocal duet for over 46 years.
After Paul’s death, Edel relocated to Bedford in the Eastern Cape where she continues to perform. She has at Women’s Day presentation and has done three concerts with two other men for the Retirement Village, in Bedford, as well as Adelaide. The trio call themselves” Forever Young”.
Paul and Edel’s son, Joe, has gone on to follow in their footsteps.