K3 (group)

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Julia, Marthe and Hanne
Julia, Marthe and Hanne
Background information
Years active1998-present
LabelsBMG (1999-2002)
Studio 100 (2002-present)
MembersJulia Boschman
Marthe De Pillecyn
Hanne Verbruggen
Past membersKathleen Aerts
Karen Damen
Josje Huisman
Klaasje Meijer
Kristel Verbeke

K3 is a Belgian-Dutch girl group with a Dutch-language pop repertoire, consisting of Hanne Verbruggen, Marthe De Pillecyn, and Julia Boschman. The group's name is derived from the first letters of the three first members from 1998: Karen Damen, Kristel Verbeke, and Kathleen Aerts. The signature style and iconicity of K3 rely on all three girls mostly wearing the same outfit, and they are tradionally a redhead, a brunette, and a blonde. Throughout its career, K3 has built a space within Dutch and Belgian pop culture. It became one of the most successful groups of the Benelux.

Kathleen Aerts stepped out of the formation in March 2009. She was replaced by Josje Huisman later that year after winning audition reality show K2 Zoekt K3. On November 6, 2015, Karen, Kristel and Josje were succeeded by Hanne Verbruggen, Klaasje Meijer and Marthe De Pillecyn after they became the winners of K3 Zoekt K3. On February 9, 2021, Klaasje Meijer announced her departure from K3 and another audition reality show was held in the same year to find a new member. Out of more than 22,000 participants, Julia Boschman won the contest and became part of the group.


Rise to fame (1998-2002)[edit]

The band was started by Niels William. It was first called Mascara and consisted of Karen Damen, Kristel Verbeke and Kelly Cobbaut. Initially, their intention was to be the Flemish version of the British all-female group "Spice Girls." Following the same formula the band was composed of all females in their twenties, and like the Spice Girls, women in their twenties as their target audience. After Mascara had covered a song, Kelly Cobbaut left the group to go to college. She was supposed to be replaced by Deborah Ostrega, but she immediately withdrew after she signed the contract. Because of the Dutch repertoire of the group. Ultimately, William managed to find Kathleen Aerts as a replacement and because again someone joined with a k as the initial letter, they decided to change the name of the band to K3. Their original target is noticeable in their early song lyrics including the first single, "Wat ik wil" (What I want). This release was not very successful.

In 1999, K3 participated in live television shows that selected the Belgian entry for the Eurovision Song Contest with their song "Heyah Mama". The song was not well received by one of the judges, Marcel Vanthilt, who referred to the band members as "assorted meat products". Notwithstanding, "Heyah Mama" was released as a single and became the first big hit for the band, staying at the number two spot of the Flemish Ultratop 50 chart, charting 25 weeks. Their next two singles also earned the number one spot on the charts, resulting in an uninterrupted period of 32 weeks of K3 in the number one spot. About a year after becoming famous in Flanders, K3 also became famous in the Netherlands.

Their songs are written by Miguel Wiels, Alain Vande Putte and Peter Gillis. This trio previously collaborated as songwriters for Flemish singer Isabelle A.

K3 is noted for being the first pop act to break through to the top of the charts without receiving any airplay from the regular music television channels, such as MTV and TMF. Niels William's new marketing concept was based on promotion via children and cartoon channels such as Fox Kids.[1]

Joining Studio 100 (2002-09)[edit]

K3 performance - Oostende - 2001
K3 performance - Hasselt - 2006

In 2002, Niels William sold the band to Studio 100, a Flemish television production company for Dutch and Belgian children's programs.

Songs like "Heyah Mama", "I love you baby", "Alle Kleuren" (All colours), "Blub, ik ben een vis!" (Blub, I'm a fish!), "Tele-Romeo", "Toveren" (Magic), "Verliefd" (In love), "De 3 biggetjes" (The Three Little Piglets), "Oya lélé", "Hart verloren" (Lost heart), "Liefdeskapitein" (Captain of Love), "Kuma He", "Ya Ya Yippee", "Dokter Dokter" (Doctor doctor) and "Kusjesdag" (Kisses Day) were hits for the band. K3 has released nine albums. Their eighth album Ya Ya Yippee sold more than 50,000 copies in pre-sales within the Benelux. The ninth album, Kusjes (Kisses), sold 20,000.

K3 has a children's television program called De wereld van K3 (K3's World). Originally, there were Dutch and Flemish versions, but only the Dutch version remains.

On 10 June 2006, a party was held at Plopsaland, a popular theme park, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Studio 100. At the event, the band members opened the K3 Museum which provides an overview of their career. There are interviews, clothes, and props from the films to be seen, including the air scooters from the film K3 en het Magische Medaillon (K3 and the magic medallion). Their gold and platinum certifications can also be seen.

The band has released several DVD's with video clips, musicals, films and with specially recorded footage like K3 in de Ardennen (K3 in the Ardennes).

In 2007, a team from Madame Tussauds in London took measurements of the band members for wax statues.[2] K3 unveiled these wax statues at Madame Tussauds Amsterdam on 4 July 2007.[3]

On 10 May 2008, the band celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a new show 10 jaar K3 (10 years of K3). It was also celebrated in Plopsaland.

Line-up change (2009)[edit]

On Monday 23 March 2009 Kathleen announced her departure at a press conference. "It was a tough decision, after all, I gave the best years of my life to K3. People change and life is constantly in motion; I'm 30 now and after ten years it's time to move on". She made her last two appearances with K3 in June at a Studio 100 showcase at the Rotterdam Ahoy.

Karen and Kristel then searched for a replacement on television through a talent show called 'K2 zoekt K3' ('K2 searching for K3'). In the final episode, the Dutch Josje Huisman was chosen as the newest member of K3.[4]

Further success (2010-14)[edit]

K3 guest performance - Amsterdam - 2011
K3 performance - Drenthe - 2014

The first single with Huisman as part of the group, "MaMaSé!", became a smash hit, peaking at number one for six consecutive weeks in The Netherlands and for seven weeks in Belgium. It listed in the top three of both countries' year-end charts. The album of the same name entered the year-end album chart in both countries in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2010, K3 shot new episodes for their kids-talkshow (this time with Josje) and also started their own sitcom called "Hello K3", in which they portray fictional versions of themselves living in the same building and trying to balance a normal life with being superstars. This creates comic situations reminiscent of the television series The Monkees and also Friends. The first season of sitcom aired on television in fall 2010. A new single with the same name was also released on 15 September, on the album Eyo!. In 2011 they starred in the first 3D-musical in the world, based in Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland. In 2012 they released their album Engeltjes (little angels) accompanied by their fourth movie K3 Bengeltjes. In 2013, they released their album Loko Le and their fifth movie K3 Dierenhotel (K3 Animalhotel).

In 2014 they also started a new unscripted TV-show, 'K3 kan het!' (K3 can do it!'), in which they travel through Belgium and the Netherlands to help children fulfill their dreams.

The new K3 (2015-2021)[edit]

On 18 March 2015 Damen, Verbeke and Huisman announced through a press conference that they were all leaving the group stating "since we started, we knew there would be a time which we would feel that it was the accurate moment to stop; well, that moment is now present". K3's label has announced that they'll look for new members in late 2015.[5] A second audition television show, K3 Zoekt K3, premiered in autumn to find the new K3 members. On November 6, 2015, Hanne Verbruggen, Klaasje Meijer and Marthe De Pillecyn had been chosen as Karen, Kristel and Josje's successors (respectively) and would become the new K3. They were chosen from 6,081 girls.

K3 performance - Plopsaland - 2016

Kristel Verbeke, one of the first members, was their manager for the first 2 years.

From autumn 2015, the old K3 and the new K3 went on tour together. For Karen, Kristel and Josje this was a farewell tour, for the new trio it was the start of their new career. The tour with double occupancy was a great success and was extended, there was also a special 'adult evening show' with standing room.

Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe's first release, "10.000 Luchtballonnen" topped the charts in Belgium and The Netherlands. Over 6 years the group released five more albums. In 2016, their own animated series De Avonturen van K3 (The adventures of K3) premiered. That same year there came a new children's television program called Iedereen K3 (Everyone K3). It was the successor to De wereld van K3 (K3's World). At the end of 2016, the special The Diary of K3 was released, in which K3 looks back on the past year. This was an annual tradition until 2018.

Entrance of roller coaster 'K3 Roller Skater' in Plopsaland

In 2017, K3 started vlogging, a new vlog is (usually) online on YouTube once every 2 weeks on Saturdays. That same year, the new K3 got their first movie called K3 Love Cruise and there was a special on VTM: Overal K3 (Everywhere K3), in which Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe showed more of themselves and talked about the impact of K3 on their private lives.

The fiction series "K3 Roller Disco", was released at October 31, 2018. It's a spin-off of "Hello K3", including a same character and actor from the sitcom. For the first time in history, K3 has started roller skating, which is reflected in the Roller Disco series, their video clip of the title song and on stage during their tour in 2018. From 2018, K3 became television judges/coaches on seasons four and five of the Flemish version of The Voice Kids.[6]

In 2019, the band celebrated their 20th anniversary with a spectacular show with moving stands, stages and LED Walls. Includes a moving car, light-up outfits and more than 80 dancers. In May they opened their own roller coaster in Plopsaland named 'K3 Roller Skater' themed around their roller skates and their fiction series.

Initially, a new tour was planned to follow in the spring of 2020, but due to the corona crisis in Europe, this tour was postponed to the autumn of 2021. Responding to the crisis, K3 released a new version of their song 'Handjes draaien' (Turning hands) entitled 'Handjes wassen' (Wash hands) to children to explain a little about the crisis and provide them with some support.

That same year, Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe recorded their second cinema movie K3 Dans van de Farao (K3 Dance of the Pharaoh), entirely in style with the corona rules, which is noticeable in the movie. After postponement, the movie premiered in June 2021.

From 2020, K3 became part of the rhythm game series Just Dance with their songs '10.000 luchtballonnen' and 'Dans van de Farao' in Just Dance 2020 and Just Dance 2021, respectively.

Search for new member (2021)[edit]

Klaasje Meijer during her last show with K3

On February 9, 2021, member Klaasje announced her departure from K3. "K3's life is fantastic, but I feel it's time now to spread my wings; just as there is a beginning and an end for everything, now the time has come for me to look further and broaden my horizons. I will miss Hanne and Marthe enormously". She fulfilled the 2021 group schedules up until the last quarter, including a farewell tour. The last performance of Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe as K3 was on November 6, 2021 at the Sportpaleis for 'Back to the Nineties and Nillies', the same date on which they became K3 six years ago.

The label, Studio 100, announced a new member will be cast through a survival show similar to K2 zoekt K3 and K3 zoekt K3. For the first time, both sexes are qualified to join the group.[7] In September 2021, the renewed 'K2 zoekt K3' appeared on Belgian and Dutch television. The audition shows are similar to those of The Voice. The final was on November 27, 2021, where Klaasje Meijer was also present. Marthe De Pillecyn had tested positive for the coronavirus and could not be physically present, she performed by video connection. Ultimately, the Dutch Julia Boschman became the winner, who was chosen as the new member of K3 from a total of 22,690 candidates.

Further success (2022-)[edit]

K3 during their first show with Julia

The first single with Boschman, 'Waterval', was released the same evening and became a great success. Also reached the highest position in the charts in Flanders. It won the "Song of the Year" award. The album of the same name also reached a peak in the Album Charts in Belgium and the Netherlands, with 12,000,000 streams. Their song 'Waterval' then featured in Just Dance 2022.

Now with Julia, they were again television judges/coaches of The Voice Kids in Flanders for season six and they also continued vlogging and releasing music videos of their songs. Hanne, Marthe and Julia's first show tour together, premiered on March 4, 2022 in Belgium. After the summer the tour continued in The Netherlands, but after a number of shows it turned out to be too difficult for the heavily pregnant Hanne Verbruggen to continue. After which it was decided in October that K2 zoekt K3-finalist Diede van den Heuvel would fill in for her for the rest of the shows of the 2022 tour.

Their song and album 'Vleugels' was released in November, for which they received a gold record. The song was then featured in Just Dance 2023 Edition, where they appear as the dancers in a ‘VIP Version’, instead of the typical Just Dance coaches.

The same year a new TV-show, 'K3 Vriendenboek' was released ('K3 Friendship book') in which they experience adventures with older children.


K3 performance - Almere - 2023
Name Date of birth Place of birth
Marthe De Pillecyn (1996-07-16) 16 July 1996 (age 27) Duffel,


Hanne Verbruggen (1994-03-03) 3 March 1994 (age 30)
Julia Boschman (2002-06-08) 8 June 2002 (age 21) Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands


Former members
Name Date of birth Place of birth
Kathleen Aerts (1978-06-18) 18 June 1978 (age 45) Geel, Belgium
Karen Damen (1974-10-28) 28 October 1974 (age 49) Wilrijk, Belgium
Josje Huisman (1986-02-16) 16 February 1986 (age 38) Heusden, Netherlands
Klaasje Meijer (1995-03-02) 2 March 1995 (age 29) Lutjegast, Netherlands
Kristel Verbeke (1975-12-10) 10 December 1975 (age 48) Hamme, Belgium

Temporary members[edit]

Diede van den Heuvel[edit]

K2 zoekt K3 finalist Diede van den Heuvel stood in for pregnant member Hanne Verbruggen during the remaining Dutch shows of the 2022 tour.[8][9]

Marie Verhulst[edit]

During De Grote Sinterklaasshow in December 2022, Marie Verhulst sang for Hanne Verbruggen during the last song.[10][11]

Former mascara members[edit]

Kelly Cobbaut[edit]

Kelly Cobbaut, together with Karen Damen and Kristel Verbeke, was a member of the predecessor of K3, called "Mascara". She left the group in 1998.

Deborah Ostrega[edit]

After Kelly's departure, Deborah Ostrega took over as the third Mascara member, but ultimately decided to leave the group shortly after signing the contract. Kathleen Aerts took her place.


Member '98 '99 '00 '01 '02 '03 '04 '05 '06 '07 '08 '09 '10 '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18 '19 '20 '21 '22 '23 '24
Kathleen Aerts
Karen Damen
Kristel Verbeke
Josje Huisman
Klaasje Meijer
Hanne Verbruggen
Marthe De Pillecyn
Julia Boschman

Projects in other languages[edit]

In 2002, K3 recorded English, French and German-language versions of their third album, Tele-Romeo.

After K3 founder Niels William sold the act to Studio 100 in 2002, he moved to South Africa and started his own music studio. In March 2004, he launched X4, a four-member girl group that sang translations of K3 songs in Afrikaans and English. This group released Heyah Mama, which featured a single of the same name.[12]

In May 2007, Studio 100 launched Wir 3, a German version of K3 which sang translated versions of K3 songs and emulated the original band's style by casting a redhead, a brunette, and a blonde.[13]

In October 2017, Studio 100 launched My3, a Polish version of K3 with production group Tako Media and television broadcaster Polsat.


Studio albums


K3 has performed in several musicals. In Doornroosje (Sleeping Beauty), during 2002, they played three good fairies and in De 3 biggetjes (The Three Little Pigs) in 2003. They played the eponymous three pigs, Knirrie (Verbeke), Knarrie (Damen) and Knorrie (Aerts) and reprised these roles in 2007 for a tour of both Belgium and the Netherlands.

In 2011, they came back with a new musical, Alice In Wonderland with Josje Huisman, who had joined the group the previous year. The musical is the first live musical to use 3D projections. The production toured Belgium and the Netherlands in 2011.

In June 2023, it was announced that K3 will play the musical De 3 biggetjes for a third time in 2024.


The members of K3 have also starred in several theatrical films and TV specials. They usually portray fictional versions of themselves, having all kind of adventures.

In 2004, they released their first theatrical movie, K3 en het Magische Medaillon (K3 and the magic medallion). The film premiered on 29 September 2004. In the film, Dutch television celebrity Paul de Leeuw played the genie.

In 2006, the second theatrical K3 movie, K3 en het IJsprinsesje (K3 and the little ice princess), was released. In this fairy tale film Carry Tefsen played the witch at the pancake house, Peter Faber played the king and famous Belgian comedian Urbanus played the wizard.

The third theatrical K3 movie, K3 en de Kattenprins (K3 and the Catprince) had its Dutch premiere on 20 December 2007.

On 12 December 2012 a fourth theatrical K3 movie, K3 Bengeltjes (K3 Little Dangles), was released in Belgium in the Netherlands. This was the first K3 movie without Kathleen, Josje's predecessor. The movie is connected to their sitcom, Hallo K3! (Hello K3!), and stars some of the same actors and characters.

On 12 February 2014 a fifth theatrical K3 movie, K3 Dierenhotel (K3 Animalhotel), was released in Belgium and the Netherlands. This is the second movie featuring Josje Huisman and also includes actors and characters from the sitcom.

On 9 December 2017 a sixth theatrical K3 movie, K3 Love Cruise, was released in Belgium and the Netherlands. It's the first movie of the new K3: Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe. Also this K3 movie features a few actors and characters from the sitcom, Hallo K3! (Hello K3!).

It was announced on 14 May 2020 that K3 will be filming the seventh K3 movie, Dans van de Farao (Dance of the Pharaoh). The original premiere was supposed to take place in December 2020, but it was postponed due to the corona measures. The movie finally premiered in the Netherlands on June 5 2021 and in Belgium on June 9 2021. This is the second movie of Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe, and features the regular cast of their fiction series, K3 Roller Disco.

Recordings of their musicals and concert shows are also available on DVD.

Year Title Translation Remarks
2004 K3 en het Magische Medaillon K3 and the magic medallion
2006 K3 en het IJsprinsesje K3 and the Little Ice Princess
2006 Piet Piraat en het vliegende schip Piet Pirate and the flying ship Voices of the carnivorous plants
2007 K3 en de Kattenprins K3 and the Catprince
2012 K3 Bengeltjes K3 Little Dangles
2014 K3 Dierenhotel K3 Animalhotel
2017 K3 Love Cruise
2020 K3 Dans Van De Farao K3 Dance of the Pharaoh
Year Title Translation Remarks
2000 De wereld van K3 The world of K3
2001 Tele-Romeo Tour
2002 Toveren Tour Magic tour
2003 K3 in Wonderland
2004 K3 de wereld rond K3 around the world
2005, 2012 K3 in Ahoy K3 in Ahoy
2006 K3 en het Heksenexamen K3 and the Witch's exam
2008 K3 en het Toverhart K3 and the magic heart
2009 MaMaSé!
2010 K3 en de Wondermachine K3 and the Wonder Machine
2013 K3 Verjaardagsshow 15 jaar K3 Birthday Show 15 years
2014-2015 K3 Kan Het! Show K3 can do it! Show
2015-2016 Afscheidstour Farewell tour Show with the old K3 and the new K3 together
2017 K3 in de ruimte K3 in space
2018 K3 Vlindershow K3 Butterfly Show
2019 K3 Verjaardagsshow 20 jaar K3 Birthday Show 20 years
2021 K3 Dromenshow K3 Dream Show The farewell of Klaasje Meijer
2022 Kom erbij! Join us! The entrance of Julia Boschman
2023 Vleugels Wings
Year Title Translation Remarks
2002 Doornroosje Sleeping Beauty As the Three Good Fairies
2003, 2007 De 3 biggetjes The three piglets As The Three Little Pigs
2011 Alice in Wonderland
Year Title Translation Remarks
2000, 2002 Samson en Gert Samson and Gert Episode 'K3 op bezoek' and 'K3 komt niet'


De wereld van K3 The world of K3
2009, 2021 K2 Zoekt K3 K2 searching for K3 Search of the successor of Kathleen Aerts (2009) and Klaasje Meijer (2021)
2010-2012 Hallo K3! Hello K3! Comedy series
2014-2015 K3 Kan Het! K3 can do it! Wish series
2015 K3 Zoekt K3 K3 searching for K3 Search of the new K3
2015 Dit is K3! This is K3! Reality series
2016 Wij zijn K3! We are K3! Documentary series
2016 De Avonturen van K3 The Adventures of K3 Animated series
2016-2017 Iedereen K3 Everyone K3
2016-2017 K3 Dansstudio K3 Dance Studio K3 teaches the viewer the dances of their greatest hits
2018 De tafel van K3 The table of K3 K3 invites various guests and also answers viewer questions


The Voice Kids (Flemish) As judges/coaches
2018-2020 K3 Roller Disco Fiction series
2019 K3 Dromen K3 Dreams Puppetry series
2020 K3 Roller Disco Club Spin-off of the fiction series
2021 K3, een nieuw begin K3, a new begin Reality series
2022 K3, een nieuwe start K3, a new start Documentary series
2022 K3 Vriendenboek K3 Friendship book Wish series
2022 K3, één jaar later K3, one year later K3 looks back on the first year with Julia
2023 The Best Singers (Liefde voor muziek, België) Love for Music, Belgium As participating artists
2023 Team K3 Documentary series
Year Title Translation Remarks
2002 K3 in Zwitserland K3 in Switzerland
2003 K3 in de Ardennen K3 in the Ardennes
2006 K3 in de sneeuw K3 in the snow
2010 K3 en het wensspel K3 and the wish game
2011 K3 en het droombed K3 and the dream bed
2012 K3 Modemeiden K3 Fashion girls
2014 K3 in Nederland K3 in the Netherlands
2015-2016 Welkom bij K3! Welcome to K3! The new K3 looks back on the best moments of Karen, Kristel and Kathleen/Josje
2016 Het dagboek van K3 2016 The diary of K3 2016 Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe look back on their first year as K3
2017 Overal K3 Everywhere K3 K3 looks back on VTM over the past 2 years. With guests, live music and candid conversations
2017 Het dagboek van K3 2017 The diary of K3 2017 K3 looks back on the second year in 2017
2018 Het dagboek van K3 2018 The diary of K3 2018 K3 looks back on the third year in 2018
2020 Just Dance 2020 With the single '10.000 luchtballonnen'
2021 Just Dance 2021 With the single 'Dans van de farao'
2021 K2 zoekt mee K2 searches along Experience of Hanne and Marthe behind the scenes of K2 searching for K3
2022 Just Dance 2022 With the single 'Waterval'
2023 Just Dance 2023 With the single 'Vleugels'
2023 Een terugblik op 25 jaar K3 A look back at 25 years of K3 Marthe and Julia look back together on the history of 25 years of K3


  1. ^ Cabenda, Pablo (26 November 2001). "Peuterpop". Voorkant (in Dutch). de Volkskrant. p. 9.
  2. ^ "K3 in was gegoten" (in Dutch). Telegraaf. 25 June 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
  3. ^ "K3 in was gegoten" (in Dutch). Algemeen Dagblad. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
  4. ^ "Kathleen stapt uit K3" (in Dutch). De Standaard. 23 March 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Zangeressen van K3 geven stokje door" (in Dutch). NU.nl. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  6. ^ "'The Voice Kids' gaat van start met K3 als Jurylid!". studio100.com. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  7. ^ "Klaasje Meijer stapt uit K3: 'Dankbaar voor vijf prachtige jaren'". RTL Boulevard. 9 February 2021.
  8. ^ van Amstel-Smits, Marleen (31 October 2022). "K3 telt nu twee Brabantse meiden: Diede uit Someren vervangt zwangere Hanne". Eindhovens Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  9. ^ "K3 gaat dit weekend voor het eerst optreden als 'K2'". 22 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Marie Verhulst vervangt K3'tje Hanne tijdens 'De Grote Sinterklaasshow': "Hele eer dat ik gevraagd werd"". Het Laatste Nieuws (in Dutch). 3 December 2022. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  11. ^ ""Grote verrassing" van Sinterklaasshow bekend: Marie Verhulst wordt even K3'tje".
  12. ^ "X4 is Zuid-Afrikaanse versie van K3" (in Dutch). Studio 100. 13 March 2004. Retrieved 30 November 2007.
  13. ^ "K3-variant moet Duitse kinderharten veroveren" (in Dutch). Telegraaf. 25 May 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2007.

External links[edit]