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Simone Kopmajer

April 2005 At the tender age of 22, Austrian vocalist, Simone Kopmajer (pronounced Cop-myer), possesses a voice of incredible depth. Unlike the current staple of young pop singers being groomed for instant accessibility, Kopmajer’s approach to a song is understated sincerity. Her new album, "Romance" hits American shores on May 3rd.

Since she resides in her homeland, our interview was conducted through the modern miracle of email. When she sent back the answers to my interview questions, she wrote, "I hope my English is good enough!" Well it is. And when you listen to her singing, you will realize that this young woman is knows how to communicate.

JazzReview: When did your interest in music begin?

Simone Kopmajer: My interest in music began very early because I grew up in a musical family! I started playing classical piano at the age of 8 and I always sang along with my father’s [records] such songs as "Feelings," "My Way," "Volare," and "Hello Dolly."

JazzReview: You come from a musical family. Are they professional musicians?

Simone Kopmajer: My parents are both music teachers. My mother plays flute and my father plays classical trumpet. He played in a professional band for years and he was my first "vocal teacher."

JazzReview: Are the other members of your family musical as well?

Simone Kopmajer: I have one brother, his name is Philipp and he is 20-years-old. He’s played the drums since he was four and we’ve always played together. Philipp was the dummer on my first record, "Moonlight Serenade" (Venus Records).

JazzReview: Do you remember the first song you ever sang?

Simone Kopmajer: I was about 10-years-old when I was invited to sing two tunes with my father’s band at a garden party. My brother played drums and I sang "Beir Mir Bist Du Schon" and "Quando, Quando."

JazzReview: When did your interest in jazz begin?

Simone Kopmajer: I would say at the age of 12 when I started playing piano in a teenaged big band.

JazzReview: At what age did you start singing professionally?

Simone Kopmajer: At the age of 15.

JazzReview: Have you ever wanted to sing other types of music besides jazz?

Simone Kopmajer: At the age of twelve I mostly listened to Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. But I got my first jazz album called "100% Jazz" with Nina Simone, Ella and Louis, Glenn Miller, Stan Getz and I loved it!

JazzReview: Do you still listen to other kinds of music besides jazz? If so, who are your favorite artists outside the jazz world?

Simone Kopmajer: My favorite artists outside of the jazz world are Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Prince and Eva Cassidy.

JazzReview: What is it about jazz that makes you want to sing it as opposed to other types of music?

Simone Kopmajer: You can sing a jazz standard with out knowing the original version. You sing it the way you feel it and in the end it [becomes] your song. I think [with jazz] you have more freedom than other kinds of music where everybody would say, "That doesn’t sound like the original version." I love jazz because you can improvise!

JazzReview: What does singing jazz mean to you? How does it make you feel?

Simone Kopmajer: It’s music where you can take a lot of risk. Together with the band you create music which is always different.

JazzReview: What is the hardest part about singing jazz? Simone Kopmajer: I think the hardest part is the phrasing; you have it or not!

JazzReview: How would you describe your singing style?

Simone Kopmajer: This is a difficult question. I don’t know how to descript it!

JazzReview: What singers and/or instrumentalists have influenced your style the most?

Simone Kopmajer: Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong. But also the younger musicians like Kurt Elling, Diana Krall and Kevin Mahongany.

JazzReview: What music are you currently listening to? Simone Kopmajer: Right now I don’t listen to a lot of music because it influences me too much.

JazzReview: You studied singing with Mark Murphy and Sheila Jordan How did that come about?

Simone Kopmajer: They were both vocal teachers at the University for music in Graz where I was student.

JazzReview: What impact did Murphy and Jordan have on the way you sing and perform today?

Simone Kopmajer: Sheila Jordan and Mark Murphy were very important for me: Ms. Jordan, for example always believed in me and gave me the opportunity to study at the workshop, „Jazz in July" in Amherst, Massachusetts. Mark Murphy tought me how to choose the right tune, arrange songs and how to work with a band.

JazzReview: Do you still take voice lessons?

Simone Kopmajer: Twice a year I take speech level singing lesson to keep in shape. (SLS is a special vocal technique).

JazzReview: Let´s talk about your new album, "Romance" How did the album come about?

Simone Kopmajer: Heidi Deleuil, who owns Heidi’s Jazz Club in Coco Beach, Florida, gave my demo cd to Mark Murphy who hadn’t heard me sing for a few years. He sent it to Todd Barkan, who then invited me to a studio session at Avatar Studio in New York City.

JazzReview: You sing a variety of songs on "Romance," from classic tunes such as "A Blossom Fell" to more contemporary songs, like "Calling You" [The theme song to the 1990 film, "Bagdad Cafe") and Bill Withers’ "Whatever Happens." How did you choose the songs for this album?

Simone Kopmajer: I chose the tunes together with producer Todd Barkan. It’s funny because I picked older songs such as "A Blossom Fell" and "Just Squeeze Me" and he introduced me to "Calling You" and "Whatever Happens."

JazzReview: How do you put your stamp on songs that have been done so many times before by very well known artists?

Simone Kopmajer: I just sing it and [see] what happens. The voice gives the song a new color and the phrasing puts my stamp on it.

JazzReview: Is there a song on the album that is a personal favorite? Why?

Simone Kopmajer: My personal favorite is "How Do You Keep The Music Playing" because for me it’s one of th most beautiful ballads I’ve heard so far.

JazzReview: What makes you want to sing a particular song?

Simone Kopmajer: First of all I listen to the melody if it touches me I check out the lyrics then I take it.

JazzReview: When will you be touring in the United States?

Simone Kopmajer: In Autumn of 2005.

JazzReview: Do you find there is a difference between American and European Audiences? If so, what?

Simone Kopmajer: The American audience is much more enthusiastic than the European audience and they often know the lyrics to the standards they can sing along with you that’s cool!

JazzReview: You are only 23. What would you hope to achieve in your career?

Simone Kopmajer: I’m from a small village in Austria and all my dreams have already come true! So the only thing I can think of is that I would like to sing as long as possible and create music that touches people.

JazzReview: What makes Simone Kopmajer the happiest?

Simone Kopmajer: That I have a family that loves and supports me!!!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Simone Kopmajer
  • Subtitle: The International Language of Jazz
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