Knokke - Heist song festival
(contestants' diaries)

The Knokke - Heist song contest or the European Cup for vocal recitation (as it was actually called) was held 1959 and 1973 in the Casino of Knokke. Each year, 6 country teams with 5 singers and / or singers participated. Below you'll find short diaries of contestants. We hope still small archive will grow over the years. (go back for a short history about the contest)

Ronnie Tober; Contestant in 1966

Ronnie is second on the left

“Being chosen to appear at the Knokke song festival and to represent your country is a big honour. I had done many song festivals before, Sopot 1966, the (National) Eurovision 1965 and 1968, but Knokke was special. The vibe around it, the Casino at the sea gave it a special feel.  The year was 1966 and the Dutch team that year was Netherlands: Margie Ball; Martine Bijl; Karin Kent; Janneke Peper; Ronnie Tober.  Our team leader was Lou van Rees.  Holland was in the finals against England, Their team was: Truly Smith; Chloe Walters; Eden Kane; Jimmy Wilson; Engelbert Humperdinck. In my memory it was a wonderful evening and we were terribly nervous.  Holland had won the festival already two or three times.  It would be very hard for us to win a fourth time.  In the end England won and it was a night to remember.  I remember that backstage there was no real competitive atmosphere. We all were friends with a common goal, to make a great show for the public. And, to my opinion, we did.  Gee I miss those great festivals!  But I am still singing at 65.”  

Ronnie Tober was born in Bussum, Holland on April 21st, 1945 and moved with his parents to Albany, New York in 1948.  In 1963 he returned to Holland. In 1998 he was diagnosed with cancer. In effect he wanted to leave his mark and started the Ronnie Tober Foundation, to help people with a mental handicap. More info on: www.ronnietoberfoundation.nl or www.tober.nl

Aura Urziceanu, contestant in 1971

"I remember I was approached to join the Knokke competition when I was 5 months pregnant. I moved to Canada in 1969, and met my husband Ron Rully there, and we flew back to Romania instantly. I felt it was a great honour to represent my homecountry. Together with Aurelian Andreescu and Mahaele Mihai we had just a few weeks to rehearse the material before we flew to Belgium. When we arrived there it was such a buzz. We were just a small group but we had the chance to perform both the orchestra as well as a small band. I remember the opening gala, a floating beautiful atmosphere and a room filled with elegant people. Eventually we won the Europe Cup that year ...because of all the 10 marks...from the jury members, that I received...in all 3 diff'rent cathegories ! I keep very special memories about the festival over the years. It also meant a stepping stone with me later working with Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones."

Aura became a name in jazz after that performing over the world. She is still on the stage and you can check her full biography on her own website.