germany’s best jazz singer most have never heard of: INGE BRANDENBURG

when it comes to jazz, germany is not widely reknown to produce exceptional talent (i am not implying that there is none though!!!), but in the 1950s there emerged an exceptional singer, who i came across by accident (via a documentary on her life).

there are not many recordings of hers (most live or radio recordings) but what there is, is outstanding:


inge brandenburg inge brandenburg 2

born in 1929, she started to shine brightly in the 1950s with a musical timing and a warm voice that was quite special on the german scene those days. she knew what she wanted musically (which was jazz, jazz, jazz … and nothing else) and resisted being pushed by the recording industry into the slight corner of ‘schlager’ (those kinds of slight and simple love songs that were extremely popular in the ‘wirtschaftswunderzeit’), which resulted in her being labelled difficult and not being able to have the kind of career her artistry deserved.

in her uncompromising ways she seemed to have alienated the ‘music system’ and her later years apparently were strewn with addiction and poverty. she died in 1999 with literally not a penny to her name – sadly a comeback in 1995 was not the desired success and she slipped from sight again (when there was already something of a billie-holiday-tinge to her voice, not so much of a worn quality but a world-weariness and the sound of a life lived to the full with all its ups and downs).

it is so worth giving her a listen, as the voice just grips you completely and her sense of building a musical phrase is great, she truly belongs up there with the best of jazz singers!

PS. the documentary on her life is absolutely worth watching as well:


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