Anita Lerche

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Anita Lerche
Anita Lerche Photo Eric Klitgaard WEB.jpg
Background information
Born (1973-12-21) December 21, 1973 (age 41)
Glostrup, Copenhagen, Denmark
Genres Pop, Classical, Jazz, Folk, Western, Bhangra, Bollywood, Hindi Bhajans, Kirtan, Hymns
Occupation(s) Singer-Songwriter, Composer, Actress

Anita Lerche (Punjabi: ਅਨੀਤਾ ਲਿਆਕੇ) is a singer-songwriter, composer and actress from Denmark.[1] With the release of her album Heer from Denmark in November 2006, she became the first non-Asian woman from the west to create a solo album in Punjabi.[2][3] Apart from singing in Punjabi, she has sung in a total of sixteen different languages.[4][5]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Lerche was born on December 21, 1973 in Glostrup and grew up in Herlev, which are suburbs of Copenhagen. She grew up in a musical household, with her father Mogens Flemming Lerche singing and playing the Guitar, and her great grandfather Knud Peter Emil Nielsen was a professional singer and musician.[6] Concerning her father’s influence on her love of music, Anita said, “He was my big inspiration. He has a great voice and was always playing the guitar and singing. So, I was just listening and I got inspired by him.”[7]

At the age of seven, she began singing publicly when she joined the Herlev School choir.[2][8] At the age of thirteen, she was accepted to the choir of Radio Denmark and was chosen to sing in an opera for children called Lykken og Forstanden. Two years later, she started training in the western classical music style and got her first professional job as a Church singer.

After earning her high school diploma from Sankt Annæ Gymnasium in 1992, Anita enrolled in a 3-year Rytmikpædagog, a rhythm-based music education program. She graduated in 1996.

Anita studied musical theatre at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Prior to Mountview, Anita also studied piano performance, learning works by Bach and Chopin among other composers.[7] About the experience, Anita said, “I always wanted to become a professional. So, I wanted to get a very good education. I've had around sixteen years of classical singing training.... Musical theatre is a great way of expressing oneself and I got some great tools for acting and dancing as well.”[7] After completing her Bachelor degree in 2001, Anita performed in many musical theatre productions in London and Denmark.[3]


Musical Theatre (2001–05)[edit]

In 2001, Anita performed the duet song "Mit Hjerte Det Banker (My Heart Is Beating)" alongside Simon Munk as a part of Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, the Danish branch of the Eurovision Song Contest.[9] She also sang the American national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, at the boxing match between Mike Tyson and Brian Nielsen.[10] Her performance, at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, was broadcast live worldwide to more than 200 million viewers.

After acting and singing in numerous musical theatre productions, including Sommer i Tyrol (The White Horse Inn) where she played the part of Annelise,[11] Anita released her first solo album, I Love a Piano in 2005. The album includes some of her favorite songs from musical theatre and pop. It also features soft renditions of the American folk song "The House of the Rising Sun" and Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven." She also recorded "Tid til Kærlighed (Time For Love)" as a part of the Danish charity telethon DM i indsamling 2005–Forældreløse børn i Afrika.[12]

Switch to Indian Music (2005–2007)[edit]

Besides being the year that Anita released her debut album, 2005 was also the year that her musical career took a major turn. While hiking in the Indian Himalayas on vacation, she fell in love with Punjabi music and culture. Anita and her friends stayed at an apple orchard owned by Anurag Sood in Parvati Valley, district Kullu, Himachel Pradesh.[13] It was during her trek through Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh that she came into contact with Indian tribal music.

Anita’s friend Gunnar Mühlmann, the tour organizer and musician, suggested that Anita should record some of the tribal songs together with the tribal people—as an East-Meet-West-Project.[14] Anurag, the owner of the apple orchard, liked the idea so much that he invited her to his home in Hoshiarpur to record the songs.[7] During the bus ride into Punjab, however, Anita heard Punjabi music for the very first time as it played over the vehicle’s radio.[8] Thinking about that ride, Anita said, “The music and the rhythms were so inspiring, I wanted to dance there and then in the bus. I felt that this was the music I had been looking for.”[6] Anita fell so in love that she decided to cancel all of her concerts back in Europe to stay in India and learn about Punjabi music and culture.[1][15]

Over the following three months in Hoshiarpur, Anurag and his family helped Anita learn to sing in Punjabi.[16] About the experience, Anita said, “It was very challenging getting the right pronunciation and we spend lots of time refining it. Moreover it is very important to me understanding the literal meaning of each word and the full story of the songs I am singing.”[15]

Anita also received instruction from the late Rattan Singh Rajput, who was one of the driving forces behind her first Punjabi album.[14] Rattan Singh also taught her how to sing in Hindi, including Bollywood songs and the traditional Hindu worship songs called Bhajans. Anita said that on top of working with Anurag and his family, “Rattan Singh Rajput also taught and rectified all the pronunciation and meanings of my lyrics and the stories behind my songs.”[17]

In 2006, after months of living in India, learning about the culture, practicing Punjabi, and recording music, Anita finally released her first Punjabi album, Heer from Denmark.[1][18] Critics lauded the album, describing Anita as “captivating audiences across India with her unique and electrifying performances. Huge crowds and fans flocked to see her across India when the blonde bombshell hit with her Punjabi rhythms and soundtracks.”[19]

Anita selected songs for the album from multiple songwriters, including Chann Gorayanwala who wrote "Passport",[20] Satwinder Bhanewala who wrote "Gori",[21] and Jaggi Singh, among others. Anita also wrote the song "Goddess" for the album. Concerning the album, producer Satvinder Singh said, “With lot of hard work, today we got success.”[16]

Throughout Heer from Denmark, Anita pays tribute to the rich Punjabi culture. She received special praise for her performance of the traditional song "Heer," which is based on the classic Punjabi tragic romance Heer Ranjha by Waris Shah. The Times of India reported: “Anita has also rendered traditional ‘Heer’ in the album and succeeded in imbuing the depth, pain and passion of the rich composition. ... In fact, going by her style and pronunciation, one would get the impression that she is a Punjabi only to discover that she is white.”[6]

A Figure in Punjabi Music (2007–2013)[edit]

In the wake of the publicity that she received for Heer from Denmark, Anita was given many opportunities to perform in India, which helped bring her to prominence as a figure in Punjabi music. For instance, Anita received the great opportunity to create a Hindi song to celebrate the Indian Cricket team during the World Cup in both 2007 and 2011.[4] The cricket songs were set to the tune of Anita’s hit "Gori," with the words changed to support India’s most popular team. Both years she was able to perform the songs on television multiple times, including one special performance for the team in 2007 live on STAR TV India.[22]

Anita also continued to record new music. In 2009, Anita collaborated with the rapper Cheshire Cat to create the song "Maahiya."[19][23] The track mixes Anita’s Punjabi vocals with Cheshire Cat’s reggae rap. "Maahiya" won the World Music Track of the Year 2009 from the Danish Music Awards for its blending of disparate musical traditions.[24] This was special for Anita, because it was the first time she received a big award from her home country.[25]

In 2010, Anita collaborated on the track "Aao Ji," along with musicians Yaz Alexander, Kiureli Sammallathi, and Skibu.[26] The collaboration was arranged by Bhangra musician and producer King Gurcharan Mall, and the track was backed by his Indian drum group, Dhol Blasters.[27]

Anita’s desire to sing and dance in a Bollywood film was the subject of a 2010 documentary, called Fra Herlev til Bollywood. The half-hour documentary, directed by Gry Louise Kolind, follows her journey to Mumbai as she tried to break into the Bollywood scene.[28] The film was broadcast on DR2, a prominent Danish Broadcast Corporation television station. The film once again allowed Anita to be recognized in her homeland, and it also allowed the people of Denmark to glimpse the beauty of India. About the documentary and her desire to perform in Bollywood films, Anita said, “I know if I have the passion, and work hard, I have a chance, because I carry a Bollywood dream in my heart. And I know, everything is possible in India!” [29]

Kolind said that because one of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation stations had been playing Bollywood movies every Saturday, popular interest in the movies had grown. So she wanted to show the people who are in Bollywood, as well as those who wish to get involved in the industry. “And of course, there’s the developing story of Anita and her struggles in Bollywood as well. Since Anita is a well-known name in Denmark, and she’s done well for herself in Punjab, we wanted to see how far she could go.”[29]

In 2011, Anita was a featured artist on the recording of a musical drama, The Bollywood Trip. Anita sang on the tracks "Soniye," along with Vicky Singh and Stephan Grabowski, and "Mahia Ve" with Stephan Grabowski.[30]

Anita also increased her digital presence in 2011, when she released her own app for Apple and Android products through Mobile Roadie. The app allows fans to interact, watch music videos and learn about Anita and her music.[31]

In 2012, producer Agiapal Singh Randhawa created a documentary about Anita’s life, achievements, and love of Punjabi culture, called Kashish Punjab Di.[15][32] The documentary was broadcast on India’s DD Punjabi.

Sadke Punjab Ton and Current Career (2013–present)[edit]

In 2013, Anita released three singles from her most recent album Sadke Punjab Ton, which was released in October 2014. The Tribune India reported on the album: “...Anita Lerche has embodied and furthered Punjabi culture through her music. Her [latest] album ‘Sadke Punjab Ton’ does highlight both her appreciation of Punjabi culture and her evolution as a Punjabi Singer.”[32]

The title track came out in April and "Sammi" in July. For both singles, the music was produced by Gurmoh with lyrics by Dr. Tejinder Harjit. Anita has said that "Sammi" pays tribute to all of the Indian women who have enriched the Punjabi culture through music and dance.[6] Critics have reported that “Sadke Punjab Ton does highlight her appreciation and growing knowledge of Punjabi culture, but Anita lets her classical training shine in her new single ‘Merea Ranjha.’”[33]

According to Anita, "Merea Ranjha" was inspired by her personal life as well as her love of the classical folk tale on which the song "Heer" is based.[34] Of the track, Anita said, “Heer Ranjha, by Waris Shah, has inspired me a lot throughout the years and on a full moon night a few years ago, I suddenly felt this profound desire and was longing more than ever to be united with my Ranjha. ‘Merea Ranjha’ came to life at this moment and later my composition and lyrics were beautifully produced in Denmark by the well renowned Nasima Music.”[35]

In December 2013, Anita performed at a fundraiser for Christel House, a worldwide education charity based in Indianapolis, Indiana, to raise awareness about the organization’s work in India.[5][36] Concerning the much lauded performance, reported: “Indeed, Lerche has one of those truly unique voices; strong, powerful, well-rounded, classically trained, and capable of singing any genre of music and in numerous languages.”[37]

The performance was held at the Cook Theater. KP Singh, an artist and Sikh community leader in Indianapolis, expressed his excitement about the performance, writing: “I am familiar with Ms. Lerche's sensational talent and efforts to introduce Sikh sacred music and the robust Punjabi Bhangra music to the Western audiences.”[38][39]

In 2014, Anita became a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences–Chicago Chapter, after moving to the U.S. as a permanent resident. "I managed to obtain a Green Card as a unique artist in Punjabi culturally inspired music after two long years, but it was all worth it," she told one news outlet.[40] However, Anita continues traveling the globe and spreading Punjabi culture and music.[41]

Humanitarian Work[edit]

Anita has teamed up with many charitable organizations throughout her career. Her desire to help people in need stems from her belief that everyone is connected. At a benefit in Ludhiana, she told local media, “We all have one heart.”[42] Most of her humanitarian work supports organizations that provide children with an education and basic needs, as well as organizations that support those on the fringe of society. Anita has said, “I deeply feel that we all have an obligation to support the people in need.”

She performed at a benefit concert in 2013 for Christel House International.[5] A follow up concert is scheduled for September 2014, again in Indianapolis where she resides while not on tour. These benefit concerts support education in a part of India where the odds are against them. One media outlet states, “In an area where only seven percent of students graduate from high school, Christel House India has a 98 percent graduation rate.”[43]

Anita has also partnered with Little Big Help, which assists impoverished children in the slums of Calcutta. The organization helps children “secure their basic human rights such as education, basic medical care, shelter and nutrition every day.”[44] In late 2010, Anita performed for a fundraiser in Copenhagen.[45] Through song and dance, she helped bring some Punjabi flare to the India-themed charity event.

Another organization Anita has worked with is Pingalwara, a home for the disabled and disenfranchised in Amritsar, Punjab (India). Anita even performed a Punjabi children’s song, entitled “Kanna Manna Kurrr,” for the residents during a recent visit.[46]

She often donates her voice, performing at concerts or releasing tracks for charity. Even before her switch to Indian music she participated in DM i indsamling 2005–Forældreløse børn i Afrika, a 24-hour Danish telethon that raised money for African orphans.[12] The track "Tid til Kærlighed (Time For Love)," which features Anita and four other prominent Danish vocalists, was recorded and released as a part of this program.

Awards and Honors[edit]

Year Award From Notes
2013 Conspicuous Singer Global Punjabi Society Anita was presented this award for her work in Punjabi music and culture.[6]
2013 Nominated for World Music Track of the Year Danish Music Awards World Anita was nominated for this award for her song “Sadke Punjab Ton.”[47]
2012 Ambassador for Peace The Universal Peace Federation & Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace Anita was presented the award by the president of the volunteer organization Pahal, K.D. Bhandari, and Punjabi artist Balwinder Vicky.[48]
2012 International Ambassador of Multiculturalism The Patel brothers of Patel Brothers Group Sydney. The honor was given to Anita after she performed during the finale of the 2012 Indian Australian Dancing Star contest, which was sponsored by the newspaper Hindi Gaurav and radio station Sur Sangam.[49]
2012 Nominated for World Music Track of the Year Danish Music Awards World Anita was nominated for this award as a part of The Bollywood Trip Orchestra for the track “Soniye” written and produced by Stephan Grabowski.[50]
2010 Cultural Ambassador for Women Globally The Global Women’s Network and Amarinder Bhajwa, president of the United Indian Association Anita was presented this award for her multicultural work around the world.[15]
2010 Pride of the Indians Award Indian Cultural Society Denmark Anita was presented this award for her outstanding services, achievements and contributions to the Indian culture.[33]
2009 World Music Track of the Year Danish Music Awards World Anita was presented this award for her Punjabi song "Maahiya" featuring Cheshire Cat.[18]
2007 The Sita Mata Award New Dharmik Utsav Sabha (Jalandhar) Anita was presented this award for her performance of Hindi Bhajans for the Ram Navami celebrations.[6][51]
2007 Honor Punjabi University, Patiala Anita was honored for her grand work for the Punjabi language and culture.[52]
2007 Punjabi Music Award for Best NRI Female Debut Punjabi music channel MH1 The award was given to Anita for her album Heer from Denmark.[52]


Year Title
2014 Sadke Punjab Ton (album)
2013 "Merea Ranjha" (single)
2013 "Sammi" (single)
2013 "Sadke Punjab Ton" (single)
2011 "Mahiya Ve" & "Soniye" from the "The Bollywood Trip" (collaboration)
2010 "Aao Ji" (collaboration)
2009 "Maahiya" featuring Cheshire Cat (single)
2006 Heer from Denmark (album)
2005 I Love a Piano (album)
2005 "Tid til Kærlighed" (single)
2001 "Mit Hjerte Det Banker (My Heart Is Beating)" (single)

Voice Acting (Dubbing into Danish)[edit]

On top of Anita’s experience in musical theatre and the recording world, she has worked as a voice actor for Disney, Pixar, and a Barbie books series. While she was working as a freelancer, Anita took many classes on singing, dancing, and acting, including a short class on dubbing. Soon she was recruited by Danish actor and producer Lars Thiesgaard to dub a Barbie books series into Danish. Later, they both appeared in the second and third Toy Story movies as well as Planes.[53]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Planes Ishani [7][43]
2010 Toy Story 3 Barbie [7][43]
1999 Toy Story 2 Tour Guide Barbie [7][43]
1998 Barbie og undulaten (Audiobook) Barbie [54]
1997 Barbie på sydhavsøen (Audiobook) Barbie [55]

Further information[edit]

Has sung in
African, Argentinian, Chilean, Chinese, Danish, English, French, German, Himachali, Hindi, Italian, Latin, Norwegian, Punjabi, Russian, Swedish
Has performed in
Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, India, Israel, Italy, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Malta, Norway, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, USA


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  52. ^ a b "Sizzling City of Bhangra Festival April 29 to May 8". VancouverObserver. April 22, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
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  55. ^ "Barbie på sydhavsøen". [WorldCat]. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]