When I was 6 years old, I started to study piano. My teacher, Mrs. Tilca Mariana, was very helpful and soon I enjoyed it very much. It was hard to study Piano when I could hear all of my young friends playing and laughing outside, but I knew it would be worth it.
With 10 years I started singing in the school choir and found it to be very enjoyable. I soon became a vocalist, and today I look back on that time and realize it was the start of my focused interest in music. It makes me happy to think back about it.
When I was between 11 and 15 years old, I learned a lot about music by participating in national and county level piano contests, festivals and choral music contests. It was my success in these performances, that helped me find confidence. I learned a lot during this time, I gained some experience and self-confidence as a result of successful performances.
I ATTENDED THE SCHOOL OF ARTS
The years seemed to fly by, and at the age of 15, I registered for classes at the School of Arts, where I met my tutors, Professor Bertok and Professor Matesan.
I joined the Enders’ band, as their keyboard player, and we played our music at many different festivals for children and teenagers. 🙂 When I was 16, we traveled a lot. I still remember the train trips and falling asleep in crowded unfamiliar places. It was very difficult, I used to rehearse for hours, and sometimes my emotions would get to me. It seemed to us that we were always competing against the same bands in different places.
I won the “Aurelian Andreescu” trophy under the careful guidance of Mrs. Anda Popp. I had my first performance on the stage of the “Golden Stag”, as a backup vocalist. Then in the same show, I was invited to sing “When the winter comes” all by myself on stage. I still remember how nervous I was, the way my legs were shaking, and how difficult it was for me to hold the microphone. My solo debut on this stage was quite comical because, as I took the stage, with a move that was not choreographed, I tripped over some wires and I almost fell down.
At the beginning of 1998 I started to question my direction. I remember that I had a soul-searching period, where I experimented a lot of styles. I decided to perform rock, jazz, jazz-rock, soul, Rhythm and Blues etc, but I didn’t really realize how big that goal was.
At the time, unplugged music became popular, so I suggested to the Phoenix Foundation that we work together to add this kind of music to an album. Dana Cristescu had the idea to involve Mr. Nicu Alifantis for composing and producing this album. I fondly remember that he offered me some songs to be recorded in the beginning. We chose “Ploaie în luna lui Marte” to be the first track, because it seemed the most beautiful song ever composed, and the most representative for me.
We worked on the album until the fall of 2001. Paul and I succeeded to mostly finalize the album, and we decided to include Cezar Stanciulescu and Cristi Stefanescu, members of the Band, NSK. They were excellent guys to work with. They were artists with brilliant ideas about music, that considerably improved the album and its sound. It was the first album in which all the lyrics were written by me. The title of the album was “Știi ce înseamnă (să fii fericit)?” – ”Do you know what it means (to be happy)?”.
In the same year I released the Album “Prima selecție ” (First selection), a song collection from concerts, duets and remakes of some of my best songs.
In the same period, I worked with an artist that I found very interesting: Puya from “La Familia”. We arrived earlier at the studio where he was recording a song with strong message, but he had not found a female vocalist yet. The song seemed very good to me so I offered to record it with him. The song named “Fii pregatit” (Be ready) was released and was very popular. A few weeks later, we were presenting it in a performance at the Mamaia Festival.
BEST FEMALE SINGER
In 2001 I received The Award for the Best Female Singer in the Awards of the Romanian Music Industries 2001 Ceremony. It was very important for me because it proved to me that I was on the right track with my music and my performances.
I also had the opportunity to cooperate with one of the best directors from Romania, Andreea Paduraru, for the Music video of the song “Serile verii” (Summer evenings) (from the album “Do you know what it means”). Remarkably the videoclip was filmed under the water.
This video brought me the award for the Best Artist in a Music Video, and the award for the Best Music Video on the MTV Music Awards Romania 2002, for Andreea.
Later on, in 2002, I thought I was artistically experienced enough to try to prepare myself for the Golden Stag Festival. This festival had, in a way, a certain kind of fairytale fragrance, it represented a symbol of the road to “professionalism” for me. It was a test, maybe also because, for many years, I was watching it with my parents, we were talking about possible winners, we were granting qualifications and mainly, I was dreaming.
I was dreaming that I could somehow get there. I prepared myself like I do when I participate in other piano contests, and I was not allowed to use my hands except for studying – not even for cleaning the house. I was not allowed, isn’t that great?! 🙂 I rescheduled all the performances from that period and was studying for three hours each day. I had to remember each musical note from the score for voice and piano. I had practiced it hundreds of times, and I wanted to be prepared for everything.
The event called for two songs to be performed. The first song was only piano and vocals. I walked out on the stage with my eyes closed, rehearsing what I had previously prepared. I was a little bit scared, but I was very excited. I sat on the chair. With determination and “feeling” I performed the first few notes….and nothing! The piano did not work!! I felt like crying, I had no idea what to do, I could not believe what was happening. On the day of the contest the piano had decided to quit. I was just about to give up when I though maybe somehow they forgot to turn on, I remembered just in time that there was a power switch. I switched it on and I had an “emotional” start that improved my “performance”, I made it through and I won the most important award in my life.
The evening was incredible: The Scorpions, one of my favorite bands since I was a child, was invited to Brasov to perform in the closing ceremony of the Golden Stag Festival. Well, they invited me on the stage and dedicated the most wonderful song – Still loving you :). At that time, I cried, it was incredible!
In 2006 we celebrated 10 years from my debut. Ten years from my first performance at the Golden Stag Festival 1996. They seemed to pass in a moment, and looking back, I feel that each second was great! Every joy, every tear, every song recorded, and every moment of comfort and loneliness had its own role.
I can especially remember what I felt like, when the entire audience in the Sica Alexandrescu Theatre hall sang together with me, with my band and the Orchestra, in the anniversary concert that took place on 1 June 2006, remembering with each song, moments of those first 10 years.
2007 – THREE IMPORTANT EVENTS
2007 Came with three of the most important events of my career : opening act for Michael Bolton in Brasov on the 7th of July and for Beyonce in Cluj on the 22nd of October. The same year I had the pleasure of meeting Anita Doth, a member of the “2 Unlimited” band, with whom I sang a duet on the stage of Callatis – a festival in a beautiful seaside resort called Mangalia. It was an amazing experience, I had the chance to know her better, talk a lot, sing a lot and I realised she is a great and warm person, a special and powerful voice. We recorded together the song “If you want it” the English version of “Noapte calda” which I wrote together with my brother back in 2001.
2008 – I HAD THE CHANCE TO SING WITH AL BANO
The year 2008 started with a great achievement – I had the chance to sing in duet with Al Bano in Iasi. He is definitely a great musician, a wonderful man and a special personality. I am lucky to have met him, and to have shared the stage with “The Maestro” for five times already, and each time is a joy and a blessing. Later that year we decided to make a “Best of”, a sort of a compilation with the most important songs of the 10 years of my musical career, some of them with their original orchestration, some of them with a new production, redone in Unicorn Records studio. The album was called “1998-2008”.
The same year, on the 22nd of December – very close to my birthday – “The National Journal” produced an album of mine with 23 Holyday songs that sold in almost 100.000 copies in few hours. That was the best present that my listeners could give me that year, for my birthday.
In 2009 I finished an album that I worked for almost 6 years. It was a special one because I wrote, composed, orchestrated and produced it entirely: my first “baby”. The album contained my thoughts, dreams, pieces of life and, most important, it was a double album, one in Romanian (“Culeg vise”) and one in English (“Believe”). During the work on this album, I met a very special person that helped me work on the English version of the album and together we decided to name the album “Believe”, as a statement for all “believers”. The release and the launching show was a success, because most of the fans that stood by me for all those years, have come to Bucharest, to the show. It was a great feeling and an amazing evening.
The same year I participated in a song contest at a festival that took place in a beautiful Romanian seaside resort – Mamaia. I participated with a great song written by Cristian Faur and together we won the first prize.
2010 started in a great way: Ovi and I won the National Selection and we represented Romania at the Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo with the song “Playing with fire”. It was an overwhelming feeling, a dream come true. We ranked Romania on the third place in the Grand Final.
It was one of the best experiences in my career.
In the same year my album “Culeg vise” won the prize for Romanian Best Album at the National Radio Prizes and this was an honor for me, knowing that it was an album that I entirely wrote and produced.
I BELIEVED IN A DREAM
The end of the year came with another surprise. I was invited to participate in the TV show “Dansez pentru tine” (Dancing with the stars) where I managed to reach the finals.
I worked very hard, but unfortunately only dedication and work were not enough to change lives. I had to work a lot harder than my colleagues, who finished at least once in their lives a dance course. I expanded my training from 4 to 8 hours a day.
I FILMED ”BELIEVE”
In that year I discovered a magic place, at the shore of the Aegean Sea, where I understood what it’s like to live a simple life. Afitos, my love, you are no longer as I knew you then, but you still live in my soul like a refuge far away from the urban hurricane.
It is where I filmed the videoclip for “Believe”. It’s a simple video done between a bath in the sea, a long walk and a dinner at one of the many Greek restaurants.
We left convinced to come back. One year later, we returned with Sami, the first Samoyed of the family.
LIVE AROUND THE WORLD
The following years we decided to explore beautiful Greece and we reached Thassos, with our red piano. We started there our “Live around the word” project. I wanted to live and capture LIVE in voice, the energy of the places where I sang.
2011 X FACTOR
At the beginning there was the joy of being part of the jury in the most expected TV show of the year: “X factor”. I was coach for a few young, talented singers. thought that sharing my experience and advice with them would have an influence on their development as artists, but also as individuals.
I didn’t think, at that time, that people can be so small, and any gift you give comes with a price. I understood that the fight for my team had turned against me. Sincerity and engagement have their price in the Media where image is 90% of everything that counts. Actually, if I were to relive everything, I would enjoy it more and leave the stress aside.
In 2011 I gave voice to the Romanian version of Holly in “Cars II”.
I WAS BRAVE
2012 didn’t bring the end of the world. I recorded „Chiar pot zbura” , the Romanian soundtrack for “Brave”. I never thought how much joy this experience would bring and I still remember the fantastic filming days in Poland.
I WENT BACK TO SCHOOL
In 2013 I decided to deepen my knowledge, so I started studying composition at the Music University. In December, Ovi shared with me a song that he composed, called Miracle. I thought it was a complex, wonderful song and it had a bigger impact on me than “Playing with fire” back in 2010.
IT’S A MIRACLE
In March 2014 we won the National Selection for the second time and represented Romania in Copenhagen, ranking this time on 12th place. There were a lot of problems and things that didn’t work as it should have been, and they were out of our control.
It was frustrating to see that the show we prepared in Brasov was more complex than what we were offered in Copenhagen. In Brasov we used a hologram throughout the show, in Copenhagen we were not allowed to use it, we got 15 seconds on croma.
A few months before the show we received a phone call that we have to have EVERYTHING ready in 5 days, exactly as it will be in the final show. I KNOW nothing can come out when you have to rush it. Thank you again Razvan Sanda și Mihaela Pangulescu for the dress and unslept nights and all your effort.
Radu, my husband, was, as in 2010, the one who designed the “trademark” of the moment: the round piano.
The Final passed with a bitter taste and the confirmation that Eurovision is a phenomena with a strong geo-political influence.
In 2015 I launched the album „Povești de iarna” ,entirely written by me. Only three songs don’t have my lyrics, because Andreea Andrei, Mircea Rusu and a childhood friend, Marius Marincaș, offered me their lyrics.
It’s a deep album, full of personal experiences, about winter’s stories, about light and dark, about the will to fight, about old friends, about bright days .. ah I love romance, what can I do?!
A DUEL OF THE PIANOS
In 2017 I started a wonderful TV show with Ovi, called “Duelul Pianelor” on TVR2 (a duel of the pianos). We wanted to keep the image of a team in competition as in 2010 or 2014 at Eurovision. Together with Radu (my husband) and Ovi, we started writing down ideas for different competitions for the show. Radu built our LED piaos and he deals with any technical problem, already for a long time. We also found a charismatic moderator for the show and it fits perfectly in TVR2 grid.
20th CAREER ANNIVERSARY
2017 marks 20 years from my debut in the Mamaia 1997 Festival when I won the prize.
I wanted to have concerts with the Simphonic Orchestras of the main cities and God granted my wish, as I had the opportunity to sing with the Opera or Philarmonic Orchestras of Sibiu, Iasi, Craiova, București. It was the most beautiful present I could have wished for on my birthday.