want to know what sends me? The dark, sexy irony of European cabaret.
What makes my toes wiggle? The happy-go-lucky wit of American jazz and
blues. I’ve sung both of these songbooks and more for 15 years and feel
uniquely suited to them, having spent my life in Europe and the U.S. I
seek intimate spaces in which to reveal the songs that give me the
range and versatility I desire as singer and actress. The songs I sing
are the ones that mesh with my outlook and understanding of things, and
with my experiences, and I live to continually broaden these so I can
incoporate more lyrics and more songs. As such, my writings On Singing continue
I was born in Frankfurt to a pair of Berliners. I was five when my father, a Lufthansa airline executive, received a transfer from Munich to JFK. As a shy German girl, I learned English in a black childrens' choir on Long Island to the tunes of Bill Whithers and the Jackson Five. Though I always loved to sing, I never aspired to being a professional performer. My dream was to become the cultural attaché at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., and so I chose a major in international studies in college, with a minor in music. I’ve studied arias, Lieder, theater and opera, the Broadway repertoire and jazz.
On a trip to the Texas hill country in 1988, I fell in love with Austin and lived there for over a decade surrounded by blues, bluegrass, jazz and folk. Today, I bring all of these influences to my song. Hearing a recording of The Three-Penny Opera in 1992 seized my imagination and instrument. I journeyed back to the music and art of the Weimar Republic and there found a home for all my women and sensibilities. With a suitcase full of kinky tunes in German, French and English, I knocked on the door of my would-be first cabaret partner, the late Larry Greenawalt, and named my first act, Das Kabarett. Over the years I’ve found songs in Spanish, Yiddish, Flemish, Portuguese and Latin, and lots of terrific partners in crime. In 1999, my success with this repertoire convinced me to leave a great salary in top management at Whole Foods Market and a heap of stock options for the chancy life of a cabaret singer.
Then in 2000 I was invited to perform a centennial tribute to Kurt Weill at the German Embassy and was introduced as "an ambassador of German culture" by the cultural attaché himself. This fateful moment convinced me that I had made the right choice in careers. Returning to New York a year later, my first gig took place in a jazz parlor in Harlem where you can still hear me now and again.
In 2003, I found myself hungry for more European cabaret and founded the Kabarett Kollektif, an award-winning ensemble of 14 performers from 9 countries based in NYC and specializing in the European cabaret arts. In 2007, I produced NY's first festival for European cabaret, Kabarett Fête to sold-out houses. That same year my husband Robert and I endowed the world's only cabaret scholarship, the Peter E. Kohler Scholarship in Cabaret Performance at Long Island University where we met. Today I balance my solo singing and teaching careers with my roles as producer and director. 2011 took me to India as an artist-in-residence and to the Caribbean to expand my method of stagecraft and master classes.
I became a dual German-American citizen in 2004 and make my home in NYC and Berlin. It’s been an unconventional and lucky life, both in and out of song. I suppose that on any road less traveled, the lessons may be harder, but the rewards are most definitely sweet.