Ilse DeLange Biography

Ilse DeLange Biography

She is young, very pretty and extremely talented. She is also a true phenomenon: Dutch singer Ilse DeLange caused a sensation in Holland when she signed directly to one of the major record companies in Nashville, America's capital of country music. She baffled her fellow countrymen and women with the sheer brilliance of her debut album 'World Of Hurt', which shot to number 1 of the album charts in record time. And she did what nobody ever managed to do before: She single-handedly created an important place for country music in her home territory!

The road to this seemingly overnight success was, however, long and winding. Ilse DeLange knew she wanted to be an entertainer from the time she was a tiny toddler. When she was 8 she entered her first talent contest, imitating a famous comedian by lip-synching one of his songs. She had her audience in stitches and thoroughly enjoyed her first big success which, no doubt, strengthened her resolve to make it in show business. Little Ilse would enter many more contests, filling her trophy room at home with all the awards she won. She first got exposed to country music when she sang Marie Osmond's hit 'Paper Roses'. Even though her friends would ridicule her for her unusual taste in music, Ilse loved country music so much she even had an American acquaintance send her tapes of country music radio station broadcasts.

At the age of 12 she regularly sang together with Dutch country pioneer Ruud Hermans on nationwide radio, and two years later Ilse already performed in several national television shows. All these years as a child prodigy proved invaluable for DeLange's growth as an artist, as she spent all of her free time working on her singing, practicing her guitar playing and developing her song writing.

When DeLange sang at the yearly Dutch Country Music Awards in 1994, representatives for Warner Bros. Nashville and BMG Records Holland attended the show. They were completely knocked out by her talents but Ilse, only 17 at the time, turned down a record deal because she felt she wasn't ready. The record execs kept in touch with her, and when the BMG representative moved to Warner Bros. two years later, he got in touch with his American colleagues to once more discuss the future of Holland's brightest singing sensation. DeLange cut a demo in Bobby Lalonde's studios in Canada, and this clinched it: She was ready to join the Warner Bros. family of artists and flew to Nashville to record her debut album.

For Ilse DeLange, the dream she'd had since early childhood finally came true. When asked who she ideally would want to produce her album, DeLange simply picked up her favorite cd's to check the names of the producers. One name came to the fore: veteran producer Barry Beckett, who worked with greats like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joe Cocker, Dire Straits, Glenn Frey, Waterboys.

'Barry is not your typical country producer', Ilse says. 'He has also worked with soul artists like Percy Sledge and Etta James. That was a very important consideration for me'.

DeLange also got to pick and choose all her favorite musicians. Talking to Billboard magazine, Ilse said it was like Nashville turned into one great big toy store for her: 'During the recordings in February I could get all sessioneers and backing singers I wanted to. Even Vince Gill suddenly showed up. I couldn't believe my luck'.

Ace musicians like Eddie Bayers, drums (Trish Yearwood, Wynonna Judd, James Taylor), Brent Rowan, electric guitars (Deana Carter, Clay Walker), Blue Miller, acoustic guitars (Gibson/Miller Band), Mike Brignardello, bass guitar (Tim McGraw) and Tony Harrell, keyboards (Faith Hill) thoroughly enjoyed the sessions. Pedal-steel player Paul Franklin and dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas also dropped in to contribute some inspired playing. In addition Barry Beckett played piano as well as the Hammond B3. Background vocalists included Rob Crosby, Harry Stinson, Jonell Mosser, Tim O'Brien and none other than superstar Vince Gill.

Together wit Beckett DeLange worked on creating a fresh new sound, working with a country feel, but more often than not favoring Hammond, Wurlitzer and dobro over the all too traditional pedal-steel, fiddle and Fender Telecaster. But it's Ilse DeLange's voice that really shines. Powerful, crystal clear, emotional, melancholic yet full of joy, hers is a distinctive voice that only comes along once in a very great while. With a distinctive pop infusion and, in places, a touch of blues, Ilse DeLange came up with a truly unique sound that gives 'World Of Hurt' a special place in modern country music.

Ilse had a choice of over 800 songs pitched to her by Nashville's publishing community. In addition, the Amsterdam office of Rondor Music provided her with two Beth Nielsen Chapman songs, the melancholic 'Old Tears' and the title track 'World Of Hurt'. DeLange herself co-wrote four tracks with Rob Crosby, including 'You Are The Dream', 'When We Don't Talk', 'What Does Your Heart Say Now' and the album's opening track 'Flying Blind'. The Hillary Lindsey, Bruce Bouton and Robert Ellis Orrall penned upbeat cracker 'I'm Not So Tough' was the first single off the album, providing DeLange with an instant top-40 hit. This success propelled 'World Of Hurt' to the top of the Dutch charts within two weeks of its release in the late summer of 1998.

Rocketing to the top like this is highly unusual for any well established superstar, it's certainly unheard of for a debuting artist, and in Holland it's absolutely outrageous for a country singer! This remarkable feat caused a veritable media storm that put DeLange in a limelight that would have blinded most seasoned entertainers, but Ilse took it all in stride. The Dutch fell head over heels in love with her spontaneous and cheerful personality, and a true star was born. Consequently 'World Of Hurt' soared past the platinum mark and the album hasn't shown any signs of slowing down since. In early August 1999 it passsed the triple platinum mark by selling more than 300,000 copies.

Some very special people firmly believe that Ilse DeLange will conquer the world with her own distinctive style of country music. Bob Saporiti, the man who signed her to Warner Bros. Records Nashville, told Billboard's Chet Flippo; 'She has a real shot at being the first truly international country star. I've been looking for someone like this my whole life, so that country music can become a world form, like rock & roll did. It came back to the U.S. in an altered form, via the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. She's the one who can do that in country music'.

High praise indeed, but for Ilse the words of Trisha Yearwood meant even more. After singing a duet with her recently at Yearwood's concert in Coventry, England, Trisha told the audience: 'Check her album out. She's going to thrill all of us and all of you!'

DeLange divides her time between Holland and Tennessee. She has toured all over The Netherlands with her band of fine, Dutch musicians. If the incredible success in her home country is any indication, she can look forward to a brilliant international career. 'World Of Hurt' has been released in the UK and Germany in the spring of 1999. And other European countries will follow later in 1999.

Currently she is looking for new songs to record her second album. Early in the new millenium she will release a combination of that album and 'World Of Hurt' in the United States. Meanwhile her fans in The Netherlands are getting an extra bonus from her in the form of a live recorded album, containing songs written by US singer/songwriter John Hiatt.

August 1999.

¬ Warner Music Benelux/Ilse DeLange Fan CLub

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