Madam X: Christine A Ludwig
by Sheldon Rocha Leal
The perception of what success is, is not always what one would think it is. There are many roads to success and they are not always the obvious path. I have therefore taken it upon myself to highlight these various paths, by telling the stories of people I know and have come to meet over the years, who have succeeded in the business of music.
Many people who think about a career in music always focus on the STAR and therefore give up on their quest to pursue a career in music before even delving into the intricacies of the business and all the available opportunities. What they don’t realize is that the STAR is just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to a career in music and even music itself is sometimes the tip of the iceberg in a career in music (with many people in the music business hardly ever dealing with music).
There are also many people within the music business who do not want to be stars and the attention that comes with it. They purely want to do their music thing. The good news is that there is a space for many different types of personalities, with many and varied skills in the music business.
Which brings me to the topic of this current article: Christine Ann Ludwig…aka Madam X.
I met Christine in 2000 at music school. We were both vocal students and we were also people who came to music a little later in life. At music school, Christine wasn’t like everyone else, trying to catch the limelight, it could be clearly seen that she was there to accomplish a goal and that she had a very specific mission, to which most of us were not privy. But as the years have progressed the story has unfolded.
We used to call her the Human Blender at music school, because there was no one there who could vocally blend with other voices in the way in which Christine could.
After completing her studies she formed an acapella vocal group (Road Trip) with some of our music school friends: Anne McLaren, Matthew Heinrich, Jan Hoogendyk (aka Elvis Blue) and Roy Benjamin (RJB). The band secured a few gigs and it all was going well for a while, but eventually everyone went their separate ways.
One of Christine’s first music jobs was as the Head of Popular Music at the National School of the Arts. She came to the school at a time when many changes had occurred and many students had left. In her tenure at the school she managed to keep the ship afloat and turned the music school into a success.
At the same time she was also asked to join a government SGB (Standards Generating Body) that helped generate the National Curriculum for music as a subject at school level.
From National School of the Arts she was employed as the principal of the Sibikwa Arts Center (SAC) in Benoni. It is an award winning multi-disciplinary arts center that reaches out to the surrounding communities. At SAC Christine put on some amazing shows and changed the course of the institution.
Although she attained much respect and success within the realm of what she was doing, the best was yet to come. After completing her tenure at SAC, Christine reevaluated what she was doing and decided that a change was needed.
Creatives who are sometimes placed in management positions, feel that the administration and the rigors of management take them away from the creative process and this can sometimes cause frustration and even depression. The reality is that the more a creative gets involved in management the further away they move from the creative process and it’s a decision that needs to be carefully considered.
The perception is sometimes that the only path to success is through management, but honestly speaking you can be a success (financially and personally) at any level doing whatever you love.
After her reevaluation Christine decided that her passion actually lay with the craft of singing and honing the skills that can differentiate a good singer from an exceptional singer. She therefore focused all her efforts to master the art of coaching a voice and to become a Master Vocal Coach. She honed her keyboard playing ability, she focused on the craft of singing and re-enrolled at university to take her skill to the next level.
In the world of Vocals and vocal training, there are two types of Vocal teachers. There are those teachers who focus on the development of the vocal mechanism, the improvement of a student’s vocal capacity and stamina and the overall improvement of a student’s vocal range. I like to call these teachers Vocal Coaches, as they serve a similar function to a sports coach. Then there are those vocal teachers who focus on teaching students songs. I like to call these teachers Singing Teachers (if you are going to a singing teacher…stop it…you doing nothing).
She initially taught vocals at Allenby/Damelin, St Benedicts and Southdowns College and she also lectured at the University of Pretoria. Attracting a very loyal student following. Her students excelled in music exams, both at local and international exams. Some of her students even pursued careers in the music business. Her brilliance eventually came to the attention of people working in television and she got booked for her first TV show as a Vocal Coach: Clash of The Choirs (on Mzanzi Magic).
After establishing strict criteria, guidelines and processes on the show, she got booked to be a vocal coach on Idols South Africa. She has now brought her expertise to The Voice franchise, coaching on The Voice South Africa and Nigeria, Big Brother Africa and The Sing Off.
Christine today holds a BMus Honours (Cum Laude) from the University of Pretoria, is completing a Masters in Vocals at the University of the Free State, has a vast portfolio of vocal students, is used as a vocal consultant by various celebrities and organizations and has become one of the most celebrated Master Vocal Coaches in South Africa. Proving that if you are passionate enough about what you do, you can make a success of anything you set your heart to and then you will be making money doing what you love doing and not what you are expected to do.