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Female singer that earned the title of "The Flemish Doris Day" with ther crystal-clear vocals in the fifties.


uit "het beste van"

"Que sera, sera"
53,4 sec. - 105 Kb.
song : J. Livingstone, R.Evans, V.Amsel,
J.Dams, L.Camps
Year : 1956

"Hou van mij ... altijd"
64 sec. - 127 Kb.
song : G. Lynes,
B.Guthrie, E. Franssen
Year : 1958

58 sec. - 114 Kb.
song : R. Révil,
F. Lemarque, E. Franssen
Year : 1958

"Diep in mijn hart"
58,2 sec. - 114 Kb.
song : J. Valkhof
Year : 1959

50,8 sec. - 100 Kb.
song : Mösser, N.Byl
Year : 1959

Record co. : Philips/Phonogram


Born in 1927 as Jo(sephine) Verbustel, she was a was a lively teenager, but with a weak health. Her parents had to go to great length to finance the finest doctors, but even when she went to art school, she had to interrupt her studies because of polio.


It was in 1953 that she landed in the N.I.R. (national institute for radio-transmission, the predecessor to the BRT). Slowly but surely she started making a name for herself as a singer : in front of the orchestra's of Francis Bay and Raymond Terby, she worked her way through all of the classics and standards of the time. Her glory period as a singer happened from the middle of the fifties until the middle of the sixties, amidst a generation of singers such as La Esterella, Jetty Gitari, Will Ferdy and Bob Benny.

Hits she scored in the national charts were "Que sera, sera" (just one month after Doris Day had her number one hit with that song, Jo Leemans landed it on the same spot in a Dutch translation, in December 1956), "Heel mijn hart" (also n° 1, in 1957), "Lazarello (n° 11), "Marjoleintje" (n° 3), "Ik ben verliefd op heel de wereld" (n° 13), and "Diep in mijn hart" (n° 7 in 1960).
Other songs she mentions amidst her favourites are "Ware Liefde" (True Love of Cole Porter), "Als sterren flonk'rend aan de hemel staan", "Weet je nog wel, die avond in de regen" en "Lieve Jo" (Hold'em Joe).


Noteworthy is also that Jo Leemans once performed a version of "Je t'aime, moi non plus", in a Dutch version with Jef Cassiers, but instead of a cover of the juicy hot Gainsbourg/Birkin version, this was a cover of the version that Fernandel did in France.

Together with her career as a singer, she developed a career as a presenter on radio and television. As she said later : "in those days we had to know everything: talk, sing, act, move, everything. We had to carry the whole show, from the beginning to the end." In the beginning of the seventies, she became a teacher in "repertoire, musical and jazz" at "Studio Herman Teirlinck" in Antwerp. Although she directed three musicals, she regrets never have done one herself "I was asked to do the role of "Eliza Doolittle" in "My Fair Lady" in 1964, but my husband held me from doing it when we saw that the production had to be ready in six months. Later on I found out that was a good thing, because the musical ran here only three months because of the severe winter that year. And I don't know if I would've coped with it physically too"

In 1973, she left Flanders for Benidorm (Spain) for health reasons, where she stayed until 1990 with three dogs and 32 cats. Upon return, she retook her position on the radio, with "78-toeren tijd" and "De tafel van Jo en Jo" (with Jo de Poorter on Stubru), but also on television, with a role in the VTM-comedy "Benidorm", a number of panels and a place in the soap "Familie". She is still well-known and respected throughout Flanders.

Buy CD's of this band at proxis

Albums :
- Que Sera Sera (LP, Philips/Phonogram, 1982)
- Het Beste van Jo Leemans (CD, Philips/Phonogram, 1990)
- Het Beste van (CD, 1998)

Websites :
- Swing is Mijn Ding, with Jo Leemans & Bob Benny.
- Short bio of Jo Leemans at the Showbizz-site

Forum :
- Read the messages/questions about Jo Leemans
- Add your message, question, cd- or concertreview ... about Jo Leemans


Jo Leemans

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Last update to this site : December 2001.

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