A singular singer

It is a testament to Ute Lemper’s musical style that any time some female artist sings something offbeat in accented English, she’s labeled with a comparison to the German chanteuse.

By BY DAVID BRINN
February 19, 2010 19:20
1 minute read.
Ute Lemper

ute lemper 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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It is a testament to Ute Lemper’s singular musical style that any time some female artist sings something offbeat in accented English, she’s labeled with a comparison to the German chanteuse.

Boasting a wildly varied career, the 46-year-old Lemper has made her mark as a visionary interpretive singer, a cabaret genre-bending flashback and a theatrical whirlwind.

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From putting her own spin on the works of Kurt Weill or artists of the Weimar Republic, to performing riveting roles in musicals on Broadway, in Paris and London’s West End, to interpreting the songs of Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf, Lemper has forged her own path on the way to establishing her formidable public persona.

Performing on February 23 at Heichal Hatarbut in Tel Aviv, she last appeared in Israel at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in 2003. Lemper has spent much of career exploring and comprehending the history she inherited as a German born in 1963.

“I cannot stress enough my life’s journey exploring repertoire inspired by art of the Weimar Republic,” she told an interviewer, adding that her work also “reflects other philosophical and cultural horizons, other political matters, and other times.”

In addition to focusing on her German heritage, Lemper has also delved into interpretations of the French chanson from Edith Piaf, Jacques Prévert, Joseph Kosma and Serge Gainsbourg, to Belgian poet and musician Jacques Brel.

On her 2000 album, Punishing Kiss, she tackled material by contemporary songwriters she admired, including Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Nick Cave. And in 2002, she issued her first album including original material  – But One Day – interspersed with songs by Weill, Brel, Hans Eisler and Astor Piazzolla.

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All her past experiences were combined for last year’s Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, her acclaimed album featuring all songs co-written by Lemper and her musical partner Todd Turkisher.

After more than a two-decade career of exquisitely interpreting others, Ute Lemper has finally found her own voice.

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