It’s been quite a journey. During a career that has lasted over three decades and taken her from her native Germany to London, Friederike Krum has learned from the best, sang with the best and deployed her extraordinary mezzo-soprano in the service of opera, jazz, Lied and classical musicals.
Now, on her new album,Somebody Loves Me, she explores with her own unique and experienced vocal the timeless music of George and Ira Gershwin, stripped back to just her voice and the pianoof Ronnie Scott’s Artistic Director, James Pearson. Watch here
“Why Gershwin?” she smiles. “Why not? George and Ira Gershwin’s music has followed me all my life since I heard the songSomebody Loves Meat school when I was 11 – it was love at first listen. Gershwin has the same effect on people like ABBA: everybody loves the songs from young to old. Gershwin’s music reflects the desire for romance and the understanding that all we really want to do is to love and be loved. Even though I’m a twice divorced modern single mother, I have no problem to record a romance album. That desire for love is always there.”
For Friederike, the improv aspect of Jazz as a contrast to the more structured nature of classical music has always been vitally important, allowing her to feel and interpret the songs. Without sheet music, but with Friederike co-producing, arrangements were worked out as she and James Pearson recorded.
On the album, Friederike strips down the best loved Gershwin love songs to just voice and piano plus the occasional clarinet, played by Ed Barker and those songs soar in the purest and most intimate of settings.
“All we really worked on was finding a suitable key and I explained to James the feel I wanted for the songs and album overall and after that we made it up from there,” she purrs. “It was a magical process.”
“I had a clear vision of how the album should sound which was smooth, mellow and intimate, which is why I chose not to use my classical voice but a more mellow, warmer register. Luckily with James at my side it was easy as we understand each other when it comes to music almost without words and feel the music of Gershwin in the same way”.
Friederike first heardSummertimewhen her grandfather took her to see Porgy & Bess in Manheim as a young girl.
“It’s an extraordinary song, I love melancholy, but it’s a song of hope and a better future. Our version was a genuine first take”. She says.
Meanwhile, her version ofThe Man I Loveis born of experience. “I’ve tried a few times to find the man I love! I am not searching but I am open if and when he stands in front of me. Women don’t need men in today’s world, but not needing something doesn’t mean you don’t want it. I don’t need chocolate, but I love chocolate! These days, if I fall in love, boxes have to be ticked. A man has to enrich my life and be a real partner in crime and live up to these lyrics, 10 months, 10 years down the line.”
There’s a whole new twist onI Got Rhythm, similar to how Paul Young’sWherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)replaced Marvin Gaye’s swagger with rue and remorse.
“Nobody’s every sung it like this. Today, so many songs are turned into dance versions which lose the melancholy. I’ve done the reverse and turned an upbeat song into something melancholic and dreamy.”
With its smoothness, its unified feel and those spectacular, emotion-drenched vocals, the album nods to Friederike’s heroes: Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and the deeper side of Doris Day, but it shines new light through old window. It is unmistakeably, uniquely Friederike Krum.