Sabijn, Ghent’s jazz diva – the beginning

Sabijn was born in Ghent in the year of Elvis’ great breakthrough. She first came into contact with music in her grandparents’ pub, the Jean Jaures. Her crib was placed practically next to the jukebox and this is where little Sabijn listened and wobbled to the music of Bill Hayley, Dinah Washington, Elvis, Ella etc.

Sabijn comes from a musical family as both her parents won many trophies in ballroom competitions. At 8 years old, Sabijn knew she wanted to become a singer. With two of her friends she went to the department store Innovation in Veldstraat, Ghent, to sing a popular Flemish song at the time “Draai dan 797204”. At a young age she was already proven to be artistic when she won a drawing contest for a newspaper. She won a satchel. All ingredients were present for artistic development.


It was only at the age of thirty that Sabijn got the chance to take matter into her own hands and started conservatorium. During the day she went to her classes, and in the evenings she worked to pay those classes. She graduated from the conservatoria of Ghent and Brussels and gives lessons in D. K. O. (part time arts education). But her heart is at the stage and so she began as narrator, comedian, mime player, clown, and vaudeville performer, to become the jazz singer that she is today.

Sabijn’s Experience

“Bijn en Barden” was a medieval tale with musicians, played in Patershol, Ghent.

“Sabijn plays graduated” was a first cabaret show full of humor and songs. With this program she was selected for:

1) Humoristiek ’96 (Cabaret Festival),

2) The International Laugh Festival, Houthalen, 12th edition.

She was also semifinalist for Humorologie 2000. At the same time she was also a teacher in verbal expressions for Youth and Music in Brussels.

Sabijn’s Ghent Experience

In 1998 she performed on stage during the Ghent Festivities at Laurentplein. Ten days playing full house with an ensemble of 14 full of jive, swing, and dance. In March 2003 she performed with Mong Rosseel (aka Vuile Mong) in the theatre “Vuile Mong en Vieze Gasten”. She would work with Vuile Mong for two more years at the Ghent Festivities.

As ‘stroppendrager’ (“noose-bearer”; nickname for Ghent’s inhabitants) she also worked with Noël Fack. She also collaborated with Danny Sinclair (2007) in a production “Elvis” at Watersportbaan.

Musical injections

Miel Cools said: “Sabijn, you only have to have one number one song and you are there! You have to go on because you have the voice!” A few years later came the single ‘Move On’, which started it all. Sabijn wrote this number for big band. An article was written about it in the newspaper and she was asked to perform at Theaterplatform Ghent. For ten days she performed live jazz and easy listening for a diverse audience that she entranced for the entire show! The influences of her youth are detectable on the album I Keep On Moving (you can listen to a couple of songs from the album in the Music Portfolio section). Nice memories Sabijn keeps from participating on X Factor. She qualified to participate and managed to leave 5,000 participants behind her. She finished with the last 35. One journalist wrote: “Also on stage I listened with open mouth to Sabijn: a jazz beast full of humor. She can go to the Eurovision Song Contest!”

Sabijn on the move

Sabijn recently collaborated with the Royal Police Harmony for a Christmas concert with gospel in Ledeberg and in Capitole Ghent. She also gave a performance with the Lazy River Jazz Club Ghent. You can find her performing with her jazz ensemble at Hotsy Totsy, opposite Gravensteen (Castle of Counts in Ghent), on a regular basis.

The big dream

Sabijn wants to achieve her ultimate dream and perform at the famous Blue Note jazz club in Manhattan, New York. JAZZ WE CAN, the ultimate dream of Sabijn.

How did this American dream come to be?

As with a real campaign there needs to be a slogan! When President Obama used “Yes we can” during his inauguration, she needn’t look elsewhere! We turned it in “Jazz we can”! The American Dream. Whatever is possible in the U.S., is also possible in Flanders/Belgium, thought Sabijn!

The Flemish media craze

Not only newspaper but also television invited her for interviews. Both AVS and TV-East gave her the chance to explain her campaign! Even Radio 2 East-Flanders and several other regional radio stations brought the story. After winning the third prize at the Ghent Festival in 2011, the story became more topical than ever. We gave people the opportunity to express their opinions about it. Those who wanted to join for New York could subscribe on a list. At first, people massively voted on the Blue Note website where Sabijn was mentioned on the artist list. (See mail!) For now, we have registered about 100 entries. Ghent is ready and waiting!

Did she succeed?

Would that little lady from Ghent succeed in performing at The Blue Note? Sabijn also made a promise: “I will perform two songs in the Ghent dialect when I’m in New York!” Reporters are ready to go! So I would like to say: will we stunt? Sabijn has been to NY!

Flanders House & Belgian Consulate

Once in New York, Sabijn had a meeting with the Flanders House and the Belgian Consulate. Performing in NY was organized and Sabijn sang at Times Square in 2012 (see clip NY on the homepage).

In 2012: the breakthrough

After years of hard work, Sabijn gets recognition. She is asked to perform on the big square of the Groentenmarkt in Ghent during the Ghent Festivities. It was raining that day and she started with only half the square filled. But the people passing by saw that it was good and stopped. Despite the heavy rain, Sabijn was able to fill the square. Sabijn also performed in that same year at Cocteau with a new show: Sabijn A LA CARTE. She also participated in the opening parade, won a prize and wrote a text for the show.


Due to the great success of last years’ performance at the Groentenmarkt, Sabijn is booked again for two performances on the square. Full house yet again! (see clip)

The breakthrough continues…