30 April 2021 | Story Dr Cindé Greyling | Photo Supplied
René and Richann as Reën.

In the same week, a lecturer at the University of the Free State graduated with a master’s degree in Political Science and topped the charts with her first single as part of the duo, Reën. Within the first week of its release, Vrystaat Vlaktes was the number one hit on iTunes, got more than 300 000 views, and the duo’s Instagram boasts more than 10 000 followers. Not bad for the shy – as she describes herself – René de Klerk. 

An interesting start 

After living in Canada for about four years, René’s family moved back to Bloemfontein where she completed the last three years of high school. She decided to return to Canada after matric for a gap year, which “turned out to be nothing like that at all!” she says. Life was much harder on her own without the protection and support of her family. “Eventually I got a job, and part of my duties were to clean the restrooms – seriously. That is where I started.” 

After applying for dozens of scholarships, René eventually got a bursary to study abroad. “I’ve always wanted to help people in some way – I really want everyone to be OK, to at least have their basic needs met.” She enrolled for a degree in International Studies, which she later completed at the UFS as a BA majoring in Political Science and Communication. Her academic potential did not go unnoticed, and she pursued further studies in Political Sciences while working and lecturing in the department.

A twist in the tale 

René met her partner, Richann Brüssow, during the reality show, Boer Soek ‘n Vrou. “Since I am shy by nature, being so exposed was unnerving, but then again, I got so much out of it.” The two hit it off as a couple, and their shared love for music soon turned into much more than either of them foresaw. “We were honestly just having fun,” René recalls, “and then a production company contacted us!” 

Initially, they thought of becoming wedding singers as a hobby, but Select Music found out about their endeavour and offered them an artist development deal. “I’m astonished,” René says, “my music background included school and university choirs. I never even considered becoming a performing artist. But then I met Richann …”

More to come

This is just the beginning of the road for René and for Reën. René will continue to leave a positive footprint wherever she goes, and Reën is soon to release their second single. “I will always be working in the field of Political Sciences and spend time in the music scene as a bonus,” she concludes. 

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