I suspect, given the demographics of my blog's readership, that many of you are already well acquainted with the divine Ute Lemper.
She is a truly extraordinary German cabaret singer, perhaps best known for her interpretations of songs by Kurt Weil, Edith Piaf, and Marlene Dietrich. Ute has also written and recorded several pop albums.
She sings in German, French, and English, and her range of styles is as impressive as her flawless command of languages.
She also is a painter, dancer, actress, and author.
Basically, this is a one German woman who kicks ass.
My favorite of Ute Lemper's CDs is a collection of what the Nazi's called Entartete Muzik, or "degenerate music," Berlin cabaret songs from the 1930's that mixed biting political satire--even mocking Hitler's mustache--with racy, hilarious tunes about homosexuality, infidelity, hermaphrodites, and strippers. (The CD is available in German or English, by the way, though I can't really imagine it being half as fun in English.)
Ten years ago, when I first moved back to the Twin Cities and was working as a depressed data entry temp at National Car Rental, I would listen to this CD all day at my desk to remind myself that I still had some toehold in a world of intellect, of art.
About five years ago, on Valentine's Day, Darren and I had the good fortune to see Ute Lemper perform a collection of Kurt Weil songs at the Ordway Center in St. Paul. She was superb--elegant, charming, relaxed, and engaging. And that voice! From soaringly smooth to sultry/silky or even harsh and biting (in Mack the Knife), Ute shifted effortlessly throughout the evening.
(My only regret about that show was that my view of the show was slightly hazy because I'd had LASIK surgery the day before. Thankfully, Ute's dazzling sequined gown allowed me to track her well as she moved about the stage.)
As it happens, Ms. Lemper will be on tour in Europe this spring, and I've managed to snag two tickets to see her in Berlin on May 7. (Many thanks to my musician pal Scott B. for telling me about the tour!)
To say I'm excited is something of an understatement. Darren is very keen to see Ute again, too, though he'll be at a disadvantage this time, since her patter between songs will be in German.
In parting, I offer a couple songs, just in case you feel like taking a listen.
I'm a Stranger Here Myself
La Vie en Rose