Last night my heart went a flutter, again. I have a soft spot for the chanteuse and whilst flicking through the satellite channels I discovered last week, I came across a BBC Radio 2 performance that looked like it was recorded at the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House. I’m not currently experiencing TV with an English language menu or program info, so I paused, wondering who she was; charming smile, elegant retro look, and she appeared to be wearing my Trilby. Had I seen her on Jools? She reminded me of Camille O’Sullivan and the stage looked good – so I waited for her to crank it up, and oh was I glad I did!
Born Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw in Amsterdam, Holland thirty two years ago she attended the Amsterdam Conservatory, graduating in 2005 and debuted her recording career in 2009 with the single ‘Back It Up’. Written by songwriter, producer David Schreurs and Canadian Vince Degiorgio, an original demo recorded in 2007 didn’t set the music world immediately alight. Pitched to a variety of labels it struggled to find a home, however a posting on YouTube is credited with increasing awareness of the tune, and an amount of radio airplay followed.
To paraphrase Miss Emerald, ‘my eyes went oooh and my ears went cooooo’
Her name rang a bell last night when the caption flashed up, but her voice slapped the same bell with a huge gong. ‘A Night Like This’ was the tune I knew her voice from. Released in 2009 it made it to the top of the Dutch, Romanian and Austrian charts but barely attracted attention in the UK, reaching just number 65 in the official chart. So what changed the game? Answer: her 2010 album, Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor. This studio album, released on the singers own Grandmono Records label, attained Gold or Platinum in five European countries and peaked at four in the British charts.
Brimming with great tunes, A Night Like This was the most successful song of the album and cemented her burgeoning reputation as an accomplished studio performer, with her winning the Dutch music, Edison Award for Best Female Artist in 2010. In Holland the album has racked up 300,000 plus in sales with a million copies sold globally. It’s an interesting mix of a variety of styles; quite a bit of dance-pop, and some with a sort of beautiful vocal waterfall that just engulfs you in a way that’s reminiscent of Amy Winehouse at her best, specifically The Other Woman, while Dr Wanna Do is simply a great jazz tune, but it’s the quicker tempo modern jazz beat with her sultry, yet crisp vocals that keep you listening – there aren’t any bad tracks on the album but her vocals skillfully carry you through the couple that lack a little depth. Of particular note: Just One Dance feels like the fifties, Absolutely Me is truly infectious, Dr Wanna Do is deliciously cheeky and That Man, track one on the album demands you listen, at least more than once, before you even get to track two.
And what of her popularity on that most efficient barometer of popular culture, YouTube? Twenty-six million views and counting and I can only take credit for some of them since last night. Despite her success as a recording artist though I think it’s as a live artist that she will truly shine. Concert goers talk of her wonderful stage presence and awareness of her audience. She’s flirtatious on stage but you know she’s telling you the truth. Every time. The ballads and the swing both work, but it’s the Sarah Vaughan influence I love. Her 2011 version of Brook Benton’s 1963 hit “You’re All I Want for Christmas”, is beautiful – sampled with the original version of the late Benton’s original recording. She’s touring the UK in September – wild horses will not keep me away from The Royal Festival Hall on September 14th.
Her new album The Shocking Miss Emerald will be out May 6th with a new single Liquid Lunch; nicely fused rhythm and guitar, then lay that sultry, cheeky vocal firmly on top; chorus; brilliant. Ladies and gents we live in austere times, so do as the lady says; go Dutch. and don’t be shy. You know you Wanna Do.
External links & references
- Caro Emerald : Official Website : Note: South Bank on September 14th, 2013
- Radio 2 Live concert gallery
- Caro Emerald @ Amazon
- Track listing, Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor
- Official YouTube Channel
- The rise of the YouTube personality : RedCert.com