"Call Me Adam" chats with Ute Lemper, renowned international chanteuse and star of Broadway and London's Chicago, about her upcoming engagement at 54 Below from September 2-6 entitled Ute Lemper Sings The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda. Click here for tickets!
1. From September 2-6, you will be returning to 54 Below. What excites you about this return engagement? What do you like most about performing here? I am very comfortable in 54 Below. It is in the center of Manhattan, close to Broadway, a perfect location and a very nice size club with proximity to the most sophisticated and international audience. I love to perform in all different venues in NY, but this one has a beautiful decoration and a good sound system. I am excited to bring my 6 piece band this time to celebrate the love poems of Pablo Neruda.
2. What can fans expect from this show that they have not seen in previous shows? This is a very special performance. I will take the audience on a journey through this original repertoire that I have created over the last 2 years, a song cycle to the love poems of Pablo Neruda. It is in Spanish, English and French. The music, that I have written is influenced by Tango and Chanson and it transforms the poetry into most engaging and powerful melodies and songs.
3. This show is entitled Ute Lemper Sings The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda, in support of your recently released album of the same name. Why did you want to do an evening of music set to his poems? What is about Pablo's poems that you identify with most? I admire this poet. He was able to be a politician, a humanist, a diplomat and an artist all at the same time and his fight for freedom and equality was unique. I chose nevertheless the non political love poems as they are universal and easier to put into music. We have performed this concert all over the world and I have witnessed how much love and adoration people of all nations carry for Pablo Neruda. He has consoled many souls through times of oppression and given hope to them.
Of course my own inspirations first of all came from life itself. The love in my heart for life, my family, my children, my love, and my music, but also for everything I ever sang from the most beautiful songs of Brel/Piaf/Weill/Piazzolla/Ferre…..all those special songs that live in my heart for so long...somehow they also took influence in the NERUDA project.
You will see the unbelievable talent of my band, such great musicians that carry us through the evening with virtuosity.
4. For this concert, you are also taking the audience on a tour around the world not only singing selections from your new album, but from some of your favorite composers. As an international star, what have you enjoyed most about performing around the world? If I have a little time left, I will of course venture through the Weimar Republic and sing some Kurt Weill and possibly Edith Piaf.
5. How do the audiences differ and how are they the same? Every audience is different and also has different pockets in itself. It is always a pleasure to perform, in front of quiet or wild or loud or very popular or very sophisticated audience. I communicate through music and poetry and I am so grateful to find this common space of mind and heart with my audience and of course entertain them with heart and soul and wicked humor.
6. In addition to singing, you have had a quite a career on the theatrical stage. What do you get from your theatrical endeavors that you do not get from singing? I mostly love singing and making music and I miss the music very much when I perform straight theatre. Nowadays I mostly do concert tours and create my own original projects, but of course my main mission is to keep my root repertoire of German and French Chanson alive and contemporary.
7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Its my inner demons and my utter passion for music and the realization and communication of it.
8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? There are many wonderful artists I wish to collaborate with and to meet, but then I am very happy to work on my own too with my wonderful team of musicians.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? It's the one that I discovered myself...follow your first impulse and listen to your intuition and stay truthful to your passions.
And: giving is way more extraordinary than receiving....
10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? It is a gift and a privilege to make this passion into a profession and it needs the utmost dedication, but also the utmost inspiration by life in all its ups and downs.
11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Eat only the half....stop before you are full, stay active...with kids or sports....and train your core, stomach and back and shoulders.
Be positively spirited at all times and engage in happiness as much as you can.
12. Favorite skin care product? Shiseido
13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Love trigger and medicine.
14. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Love flavor.
15. How do you want to be remembered? Haha...well as one of the last great European ladies to sing and create chanson...no may be not....a great mother...a great lover...or just crazy Ute...
Ute Lemper's career is vast and varied. She has made her mark on the stage, in films, in concert and as a unique recording artist. She has been universally praised for her interpretations of Berlin Cabaret Songs, the works of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht and the French Chanson Book. As well as her own compositions and the more Jazz influenced collaborations and works. In the world of theater Ute made her mark with her portrayals on Broadway, in Paris and in London's West End.
Ute was born in Munster, Germany and completed her studies at The Dance Academy in Cologne and the Max Reinhardt Seminary Drama School in Vienna.
Her professional debut in theater after her studies at the Max Reinhardt Seminar was the Fassbinder play Katzelmacher at the Stuttgarter Staatstheater and a collaboration with Jerome Savary Bye Bye Showbiz. On the musical stage she starred in the original Vienna production of Cats in the roles of "Grizabella" and "Bombalurina", as "Peter Pan" in Peter Pan (Berlin) and "Sally Bowles" in Jerome Savary's Cabaret (Paris) for which she received the Moliere Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She played "Lola" in The Blue Angel (Berlin) and Maurice Bejart created a ballet for her, La Mort Subite (Paris). Ute also collaborated with Pina Bausch and her Tanztheater on the Weill Revue. Ute created the part of "Velma Kelly" in London's production of Chicago in the West End, for which she was honored with the Laurence Olivier Award, and moved to the Broadway production after one year.
Ute Lemper's solo concerts, which include Kurt Weill/Berthold Brecht Recitals, Berlin Cabaret, Dietrich and Piaf, Jacques Brel, Leo Ferre, Kosma, Prevert, Sondheim, Piazzolla and also Lemper's own songs, have been produced in prestigious venues throughout the world. Her symphony concerts include The Seven Deadly Sins, Songs from Kurt Weill,Songbook (Michael Nyman) and Songs from Weill, Piaf and Dietrich with the symphony orchestras of London, Israel, Boston, Hollywood, San Francisco, Berlin, The Paris Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Illusions Orchestra (Bruno Fontaine) and the Michael Nyman Band (Michael Nyman). She also appeared in Folksongs with the Luciano Berio Orchestra (Luciano Berio) and with The Matrix Ensemble (Robert Ziegler) performing Berlin Cabaret Songs. She has performed with the best symphony orchestras all over the world from Buenos Aires to Sydney.
Her celebrated recordings for DECCA include Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill (Vols. I and II), Three Penny Opera, The Seven Deadly Sins, Mahagonny Songspiel, Prospero's Books (Michael Nyman), Songbook (Michael Nyman/Paul Celan), Illusions (Piaf/Dietrich), City of Strangers (Prevert/Sondheim) and Berlin Cabaret Songs (German and English versions). She was named Billboard Magazine's Crossover Artist of the Year for 1993-1994. In early 2000, Decca/Universal Music released Punishing Kiss, featuring new songs composed for her by Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Philip Glass, and Nick Cave. Her following release on Decca, But One Day, features new arrangements of Weill, Brel, Piazzolla, Heymann and Eisler songs, as well as the first recordings of her own compositions, for which she wrote both lyrics and music. She has also recorded Crimes of the Heart, Life is a Cabaret and Ute Lemper Live for CBS Records and Espace Indecent, Nuits Etranges and She Has a Heart for POLYDOR.
She recorded Blood and Feathers (available on both CD and DVD), live at the Carlyle, one of New York's hottest Cabaret stages. It was released worldwide on DRG/Koch Records and EDEL Records in Europe.
All That Jazz/The Best of Ute Lemper, which features highlights from her illustrious career to date was released in 1998. It accompanied her playing "Velma Kelly" in the London production of Kander and Ebb's Chicago for which she received the 1998 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. After nine months in London's West End, Ms. Lemper made her Broadway debut in September 1998. A major highlight of her eight months American engagement in Chicago was starring with Chita Rivera in the Las Vegas premiere in March 1999.
Her album, Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, consists entirely of self-penned music and lyrics, and Ute enjoyed co-producing all of her songs together with her partner Todd Turkisher.
In film, her many credits include L'Autrichienne (Pierre Granier-Deferre), Prospero's Books (Peter Greenaway), Moscow Parade (Ivan Dikhovichni), Prêt-à-Porter (Robert Altman), Bogus (Norman Jewison) and the most recent releases, Combat de Fauves (Benoit Lamy), A River Made to Drown In (James Merendino) and Appetite (George Milton). She has appeared on television in Rage/Outrage, The Dreyfus Affair (Arte), Tales from the Crypt (HBO), Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill (Bravo), Illusions (Granada), Songbook (Volker Scholendorff), The Wall (Rogers Waters) and The Look of Love (Gillian Lynn).