Ute Lemper
Ute Lemper

Ute Lemper

About Ute Lemper

Internationally celebrated as a singer, dancer, thespian, actress, and songwriter, Germany's Ute Lemper has enjoyed a varied career. She is recognized as a primary interpreter of the Weimar Republic era's cabaret song tradition, initially evidenced by her 1986 debut, Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill, as well as on subsequent volumes devoted to his work. In 1989, she surprised audiences with Crimes of the Heart, showcasing her considerable ability as a pop singer. Lemper has issued recording tributes to 20th century cultural icons including poet Pablo Neruda, and a song cycle collection based on poetic works by Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Celan, and William Shakespeare. In 1993, she issued the international best-seller Illusions with authoritative interpretations of the French chanson tradition exemplified by Édith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, and Jacques Prévert. She collaborated with Stephen Sondheim in 1995 on the album City of Strangers. In 2000, Lemper's Punishing Kiss offered songs written especially for her by Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Neil Hannon, and Scott Walker. She has toured concerts of Nino Rota's and Astor Piazzolla's art songs and recorded them. Lemper has appeared on theatrical stages from Broadway to Vienna, from the West End to Paris in works from Cats to Cabaret. As a film and television actress, her resumé includes roles in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books, Robert Altman's Ready to Wear, and Ivan Dykhovichnyy's Moscow Parade, to name a few. In 2016, Lemper released The Nine Secrets, a self-composed song cycle devoted to, and in association with, novelist Paulo Coelho.
Lemper was born in Münster on July 4, 1963. After beginning piano and dance at age nine, she turned to the stage while attending the Max Reinhardt Seminary in Vienna, completing her musical studies in Salzburg, Cologne, and Berlin. After starring in the Viennese production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats in 1983, Lemper essayed the title role in the musical comedy Peter Pan two years later. She portrayed Sally Bowles in a European revival of Cabaret in 1986, winning a Molière award for her performance at Paris' Théâtre Mogador. Upon completing her work in an international tour paying homage to the life and repertoire of Kurt Weill, Lemper turned to film, appearing in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books and Robert Altman's Ready to Wear.
As a recording artist, her albums included the 1991 pop showcase Crimes of the Heart; a collaboration with Michael Nyman titled Songbook; and tributes to Weill, Edith Piaf, and Marlene Dietrich. In 1998, she also starred in the West End production of Chicago; The Punishing Kiss followed in the spring of 2000. But One Day..., the first album to feature Lemper's own compositions since 1997's Nuits Étranges, appeared in late 2002. Her first live album, Blood and Feathers: Live at the Café Carlyle, was released in mid-2005. Between Yesterday and Tomorrow appeared in 2009.
Lemper signed to Steinway & Sons for the release of 2012's Paris Days, Berlin Nights, a collection of songs by Astor Piazzolla, Chava Alberstein, Weill, Hanns Eisler, and Jacques Brel. After another world tour, Lemper took on the role of composer as well as vocalist in collaboration with Argentine bandoneón player/composer Marcelo Nisinman; Forever: The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda was a series of tango-inspired songs to accompany the Chilean poet's works.
Still inspired as a songwriter, Lemper began working with Brazilian author (and former hit songwriter in '70s Brazil) Paulo Coelho. She composed and produced a song cycle set to selections from his novel Manuscript Found in Accra. Played by her own road band and a cast of international musicians, with arrangements by Gil Goldstein and Middle Eastern string charts by Jamshied Sharifi, The 9 Secrets was released in February 2016. Coelho guested on two of the album's tracks. Lemper furthered her commitment to the legend of Dietrich with a 2019 stage revue entitled Rendezvous with Marlene. She later recorded and produced the music in a studio with an orchestra for Jazzhaus. The collection, issued during the summer of 2020, was based on a three-hour phone conversation between the two singers in 1988, and contained a number of songs associated with her. The set also included a bilingual version of Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" sung in German and English. ~ Jason Ankeny

  • HOMETOWN
    Münster, Heilsbronn, Germany
  • BORN
    July 4, 1963