Swedish diva Jeanette Lindstrom is the kind of person you like more every time you talk to her, watch her perform, or as in my case, correspond with her during the course of writing this article. Her fans’ love for Lindstrom was obvious when a couple of months ago. I had the opportunity to attend one of her concerts in Vancouver, Canada.
Lindstrom is a gifted singer and songwriter who exudes warmth when she talks to her audience, evokes strong emotions with her passionate vocals, and never seems to stop smiling while she is performing. At the end of the concert that I attended, the singer was so moved by her audience’s boisterous applause and comments, that she extended her arms imitating a group hug.
"When an audience responds like that, it is just amazing. It is worth all of the hard work. It makes me want to give even more," says the native of Stockholm.
Lindstrom explains, "For me music is all about communication, communication with the audience, your fellow musicians and with yourself. I think music helps us to express things in ways that we cannot express with just words (when talking). There is a lot of communication going on whether I am singing with or without words (such as scatting or vocalese). If an audience responds like they did the other night (in Vancouver), it is a sign that you reached them, and that real communication is happening. That is what I really like."
A lot of Lindstrom’s ability to establish a strong rapport with her audience comes from her ability to be vulnerable in her performance. "You need to be vulnerable, but at the same time remember that it is a performance," Lindstrom says, noting that there is a balance that must be struck, between being open with your audience, but at the same time retaining your dignity as a performer and as an individual.
There is a strong connection between Lindstrom and the original material that she performs. "My songs are a mix of personal experiences, or things that I see and experience in the world around me. I like my lyrics to have lots of open space, so the listener can interpret them, and make them their own."
She shares with me two different interpretations of a ballad she performed at concert a few years ago, and they could not have been more polarized. "I had one person come up and talk to me about the song. The (individual) said the ballad was beautiful, but sad, and made them cry. A few minutes later, another person came up and said about the same song, it made them happy. That was really weird (she laughs). It depends on where people are in their own lives."
Some songwriters or balladeers might be troubled by numerous interpretations of their material, over which they have toiled for long hours. Lindstrom however, has no difficulty in accepting the fact that the listener might personalize her songs in ways she may not have imagined. She explains why, "If I create and sing a song, even if it is clear to me what it is about in that moment, I give it away, knowing that there will be as many interpretations of it (the song), as there are listeners. That is what you do, you relate to your own life memories and situations. When listeners make the music their own, I think that is a beautiful thing. It is so nice to sense and feel that communication."
One of Lindstrom’s songs, "Leaf," from Middle Of This Riddle, is a story which she describes as a beautiful meeting between two people. The songwriter wanted to deliver a message with her song, "It is about not having to hide who you are. Some people put on faces and attitudes, when they think that they have to be somebody that they aren’t. "Leaf," is about open communication without wearing masks," she says.
Recently a considerably different spin was put on "Leaf," when it emerged in two different remixes, "King Britt Scuba Mix," and "King Britt Scuba Ambient Mix." King Britt an American from Philadelphia possesses a long sheet of music credentials including, DJ, music producer, bandleader, composer and scoring music for films. He also toured with the Digable Planets under the pseudonym ‘Silkworm’. He was invited by jazz label Verve Records to contribute to the project Verve remixed.
At first, it was difficult for Lindstrom to let somebody else remix her song. "I really worked hard for this album and it was close to me. It was a part of me. After awhile it seemed to have its own life. After communicating with King Britt numerous times, she decided to give him creative control over the remix of "Leaf."
"It is very far from what I usually do, and the kind of music that I listen to, but I thought it was really cool. I think that he did a good job. I am really happy about that. It is released exclusively on iTunes," she says.
Not all of the material that Lindstrom records and performs is original. On her CD Whistling Away The Dark, she borrowed from the Henri Mancini tune of the same name. The song was originally sung by Julie Andrews for the 1970 movie Darling Lili. Lindstrom’s interpretation however, was inspired by a different singer. "The first time that I heard "Whistling Away The Dark," was when Abbey Lincoln sung it. I love her voice and she has meant a lot to me. That’s what made me want to sing it," she says.
The CD Whistling Away The Dark pays tribute to standards such as Frank Sinatra’s "My One And Only," (Robert Mellin/Guy Wood), "You Go To My Head," (J. Fred Coots/Haven Gillespie), "I Didn’t Know What Time It Was," (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart), and "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life," written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and made popular by great songstresses such as Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey and Rosemary Clooney. In total, there are fifteen standards on Whistling Away The Dark.
On her 2003 album Walk, Lindstrom recorded the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song, "Trains and Boats and Planes." It is tough to cover a song etched into the hearts of the American people. It is even more difficult to do, when it comes from the Bacharach/David songbook, but Lindstrom again proves she has the vocal chops, and has gives us a beautiful reading.
"Burt Bacharach is part of my childhood. I grew up with a lot of jazz and other music, but I always loved Burt Bacharach’s music," she says.
In reference to "Trains and Boats and Planes," Lindstrom says, "I liked the song, but wanted to do something different with it, in a way that felt like me."
Last June in Sweden, Lindstrom participated in a five concert tour celebrating the music of Burt Bacharach. The tour which was called Best of Burt Bacharach put the spotlight on Lindstrom and Daniel Lindstrom (no relation) as singers who fronted the Norrbotten Big Band and the Norrland Opera’s Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Tim Hagans. Needless to say she considers these concerts to be among some of her more memorable ones.
If you visit Lindstrom’s myspace site, I guarantee that you will be hooked on her music. You can also visit her website to learn more about this talented singer/songwriter.