Anita Lerche is an internationally acclaimed award-winning singer. Lerche is most passionate and renowned for her award-winning work in Punjabi and was the first non-Asian woman from the West to release an album in Punjabi.
She recently celebrated her debut appearance on the Billboard New Age Music Chart with a Hot Shot Debut at number six, with “Bhajans”, a collection of eight Hindu devotional songs relating to yoga, meditation, spirituality, and categorized in the New Age music genre. “Bhajans” is Lerche’s fourth solo album release and highlights devotional Bhajans sung in Hindi with music that includes traditional Indian instruments fused with elements from New Age. This is Lerche’s first time entering Billboard Magazine’s prestigious music charts and this was in the first week of the release.
“It is a feeling out of this world to be on the Billboard chart, something I always dreamed about,” states Lerche excitedly. “Three years ago I settled in the U.S. and this is my first major recognition in this part of the world. I almost couldn’t believe it and felt thousands of butterflies in my stomach after seeing my name on the chart. Knowing that my fans love my new album, “Bhajans” is the BEST feeling ever and I am deeply grateful for their support,” said Lerche.
Anita Lerche is a truly versatile artist who has won the hearts of millions of fans.
I had a chance to speak to her about her music career. Here’s a look:
- How did you come into the music industry?
After singing in different choirs since I was 7 years old, including The Danish Radio Girls Choir, I got my first paid job as a singer in a church choir at the age of 15. Two years later I got headhunted and started performing in a duo with popular cover music from the west. I have received many years of classical opera singing training and I still keep my voice in shape thanks to my vocal coach, GRAMMY Award-winning singer Darlene Koldenhoven. After graduating at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, in 2001, musical theatre became my full-time living and I started recording music in the studio. My first solo album “I Love A Piano” was released in 2005 and only a few months later my singing career took a huge and very different direction that I never expected. I always knew that singing was my call and that I wanted to travel the world performing my music for huge crowds, but that India was going to be my second home. Singing in Punjabi and Hindi was very unexpected and not something I had planned.
- Who/what inspired you to get into this industry?
I grew up in Denmark in a home where my father always used to play the guitar and sing with his beautiful and powerful voice and my first choir teacher also had that amazing passion for music which inspired me deeply. Over the years I developed an interest for meditation and yoga and my friend Gunnar Mühlmann then invited me to join him for a trekking vacation in the Himalayas. Singing had become my life, my passion, my career, but I felt I needed a vacation and for once not focus on my singing, so I went to India. Parvati Valley, Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh, was like paradise on earth with the mountains and waterfalls surrounding me and I immediately fell in love with India from the moment I arrived. It felt like coming home. Our basecamp was in Shilla at the apple orchards of Anurag Sood and sitting around the campfire I learned a couple of songs from the tribal people. Gunnar suggested I should record these songs and Anurag invited me to his home in Punjab. One thing lead to the other and before I knew it I was offered a record contract. On the way to Punjab I fell in love with the rhythms and music of Punjab, so I decided to follow my heart and stay back in Punjab. In Punjab I learned about the rich culture, lived as a local with the family of Anurag Sood in Hoshiarpur and it almost seemed like I might have been a Punjabi girl myself in a previous life. Punjabi music of Surinder Kaur and the legendary Gurdas Maan inspired me to learn more about the music from this fascinating part of the world.
- Being a woman of non-asian decent how/where did you learn Punjabi and other languages?
I have always been fascinated by different cultures and different styles of music and over the years I have been singing in 16 different languages. Like my father I have a good ear for music and pitch, so I have got a talent for picking up words and pronunciation very easily. Over the years my singing training and intensive work with phonetics at Mountview developed and fine tuned this skill. Every time I learn to sing in a new language I get the pronunciation of each word recorded and sung by someone local. I get literal translations of each word and the story and meaning behind the songs I’m singing. Phonetics and the musical notes are all notated and practiced for hours, days, weeks or however long is
needed to perfect it. Learning Punjabi was the biggest challenge in my life as I got exposed to a whole new culture and exotic sounds that I had never heard before. Living with my family in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, I emerged myself deeply into all aspects and within 3 months I mastered 8 Punjabi songs and my muscles and ears got used to the new movements. Because I work as an actress and want to be able to sing from my heart, I have to know all the layers and meanings of every song I am singing.
- Tell us about your new album, what kind of songs are in it? How long did this album take to make?
The vision about my new album “Bhajans” was created ten years ago while I was living in India. This album is created in the honour of my late teacher Rattan Singh Rajput, with whom I shared a common dream about connecting east and west through my music. The traditional Hindu devotional songs on my album are sung in Hindi and the talented producer and musician Vicky Bhoi has helped me create a special sound of New Age blended with traditional Indian instruments, which makes it soothing for the heart and soul. It is suitable for yoga, meditation and spirituality with a deep message of unity and love. We recorded all the music in Punjab and Delhi and my vocals were recorded and mixed under the guidance of my dear friend William Kelly Milionis in Indianapolis, Indiana (US), and then mastered by the famous Ron McMaster at Capitol Records in Los Angeles. The whole process took around 1.5 years. I feel immensely grateful to Anurag Sood and his family for their guidance and belief in me. I also want to recognize Sh. Vijay Kumar Chopra, Chief Editor of Punjab Kesari, who supported me and helped me grow as an Artist into Hindu Devotional songs by inviting me to perform many times over the years at the Ram Navami celebrations in Jalandhar. After “Bhajans” had been released for only one week it entered the Billboard New Age Music Chart as a Hot Shot Debut in at #6. The album is still in the Top-10 for the second week in a row, so I am thrilled and deeply grateful to my fans and well-wishes, who are liking my new album!
- For those who are not familiar with your music, tell us about what kind of music you make?
I got a break back in 2006 when I released my first Punjabi album “Heer from Denmark”, which is an album in the style of Bhangra and Punjabi folk and my second Punjabi album is called “Sadke Punjab Ton”, where you will find the traditional Punjabi style but also a fusion of east and west in some of the songs. Besides Punjabi music I sing Bhajans, Shabads, Bollywood songs, tons of English songs, Danish folk and pop songs and a lot of other music. I have several music videos, documentaries, concerts and interviews you can check out on www.youtube.com/AnitaLercheMusic
- What are your goals for the next year?
Touring in North America, UK and India. Recording a new album with my own English songs, something I wanted to do for years. I also have other projects in the pipeline with recordings of Shabads and a few collaborations. The larger goal is always to connect east and west and spread happiness and love through my music. As a woman it is important for me to inspire other woman to dare following their hearts and their dreams in life. Last year I was blessed with a little boy and it feels incredibly special for me to finally have found a good balance between family and career. Always remember that everything is possible if you want it from your heart and if you keep on working towards your goals in life.
- Anything else you want to add?
For me it is important to give back and I love supporting especially children and education. I believe that everybody deserves to receive the best support and guidance in life so they can blossom as a human being. Christel House International is one of those organizations who makes a big difference in this world, by helping impoverished children break the cycle of poverty through education. They have learning centres in India, Mexico, South Africa and US and I feel proud to have recently been honoured as a Christel House Ambassador. I love supporting their important life changing cause.
A big thank you to Fusia Magazine for your support and for this interview. Also a shout-out to all my fans and well-wishers in Canada. It was a blast performing at this years desiFEST and I am hoping to come back soon and do more shows in Canada! Stay tuned on my social media for all updates regarding my shows and upcoming releases. You can find all the links here: www.AnitaLerche.com