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|Birth name||Meja Anna Pernilla Kullersten|
12 February 1969 |
|Genres||Pop, pop rock, jazz|
|Labels||C2/Columbia Records/Sony Music/Seven Sisters Network Records|
Meja Anna Pernilla Kullersten (born 12 February 1969), formerly Meja Anna Pernilla Beckman, is a Swedish composer, artist and singer. Among her best known songs are "I'm Missing You", "All 'Bout the Money" and "Private Emotion" (duet with Ricky Martin). She also gained popularity after her single "How Crazy Are You?" was used as the main theme music for the Xbox video games Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball and Dead or Alive Xtreme 2.
Prior to her solo career, Meja was a part of the dance group Legacy of Sound in the early 1990s where she co-wrote the songs with Anders Bagge on several singles including the top 10 hit "Happy".
Meja released her new single "Blame It On The Shadows", on 20 September 2013 and the EP "Stroboscope Sky" was commercially released later in 2015.
The single is written by Meja and Nicolas Gunthardt and produced by Ebbot Lundberg (former TSOOL). During 2014, Meja is ambassador for "The Non Violence Project".
- 1 Biography
- 2 Charity and NPO Work
- 3 Discography
- 4 Awards and Charts
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Meja was born Anna Pernilla Torndahl, in Nynäshamn, Stockholm County. At the age of three she named herself Meja, a name that in 1976 became a legal registered Swedish name. Today hundreds of children in Sweden have been named "Meja".
At the age of 5, Meja started writing poems, singing in choirs and acting. She had her stage debut at "Ystads City theatre" at the age of 7. She was brought up in a musical family, her grandfather, Per Lundkvist, was a composer of both classical and contemporary music and her mother, a recording artist as a child before choosing a path as a painter.
In 1986, at the age of 16, she moved to Mallorca, Spain, to study. She was introduced to American jazz trumpet player/singer Stephen Frankevich and started to take vocal lessons with singer Deborah Carter. This is when she discovered jazz and decided to focus on a music career.
Meja went to Stockholm in 1990 to pursue her ambitions. She was singing in different bands on the Stockholm night life scene, before getting out on tour as a backup singer for the Swedish group Rob n Raz DLC in 1991 featuring Lutricia McNeal and David "D-Flex" Seisay. In 1992 Meja moved to Los Angeles to continue her studies at the "The Musicians Institute" in Hollywood. She graduated from the vocal program "VIT" in late 1992 before returning to Sweden.
Legacy of Sound (1993–1995)
Meja’s career took off in 1993 with the dance project Legacy of Sound. She co-wrote with Anders Bagge (Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson etc.) and the first single, the dance floor hit "Happy" taken from the album "Holy Groove", reached the Top 10 on Billboards Hot Dance Music/Club play and the top70 of the Hot 100. It also scored significant airplay in Canada. "Happy" was released in over 20 countries.
During these years Meja also contributed to the world's music scene by headhunting her fellow artist Robyn in a local school in Stockholm, where she was performing one of her first songs as a young girl. Meja introduced the young Robyn to her record company.
She recorded one more album with Legacy of Sound in 1994, named "Tour de Force", with songs like "Woman in Me" that later was covered by artists Destiny's Child and Jessica Simpson.
Breakthrough as solo artist (1995–1997)
Meja left Legacy of Sound after two successful albums in search of a more pop-oriented career. In 1995 she teamed up with Swedish manager Lasse Karlsson (Ace of Base) and writer/producer Douglas Carr. The first solo album "Meja", was released in 1996, with songs like "How Crazy Are You", "I'm Missing You" and "Rainbow" co-written by Billy Steinberg. Almost overnight, Meja's main market became Japan where the album sold almost 1 million and won awards, such as "Best Selling Female Artist of the Year" and "Best Pop Album". In 1997 she had her first official concert tour in Japan, "The Flower Girl Jam Tour".
"All 'Bout the Money" (1998)
The album Seven Sisters, released in 1998, was inspired by the star cluster The Pleiades. Her success in Japan continued, with sales of over 1 million and the doors to Europe and America opened up. The song "All 'Bout the Money" was played on radio stations all around the world. Billboard magazine wrote, "All 'Bout the Money features an emotive edgy vocal and includes a specific kind of hook that always seem to stand out on the radio. The song holds a solid message of society's dependence on money to reach its goals. It reached #1 on Billboard's Border Breakers and top 10 on the European Radio Top 50 Chart. Once in a while, a debut single hits you between your eyes and makes you want to do everything in your power to lend support to its success."
US launch (1999)
Later that year Columbia (Sony) launched Meja in the U.S with the single "How Crazy Are You?" Followed by an upcoming release of her album "Seven Sisters" on Columbia’s C2 label. "Meja has made a great record, exactly the kind of songs you like to hear on a top 40 station, something up beat and happy, which lends itself to the texture of most pop stations right now" said Dennis Reese, former senior VP at C2(Billboard). Rolling Stone wrote "Meja turns hooky social consciousness into shiny Swede-pop pleasure…"
In 1999 she received the "Best selling female Scandinavian artist" award at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo and was up for two "Grammis Galan Awards" – the Swedish equivalent of the Grammys- 15 Feb, for best pop/rock female and for the prestigious song of the year. She also performed the song on the opening evening at the 33rd MIDEM trade fair in Cannes, after recently topping Music&Media's Boarder Breaker charts for six weeks and reaching No 1. Also hosting the Polar Music Prize in Cannes 2001 with winners Burt Bacharach, Robert Moog and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
"Private Emotion" (1999)
Meja went to Miami in 1999 to record "Private Emotion", a duet with Ricky Martin for his self-titled English language debut album, in good company with Madonna who also appeared on one track. A Billboard review says, "Martin sounds grittier and more textured than in past releases, while his duet partner Meja adds a dreamy layer of vulnerability and sweetness". The song was written by Eric Baziian and Rob Hyman and produced by Desmond Child.
After shooting the video for "Private Emotion" in Los Angeles with director Francis Lawrence, Meja stayed to work on her next album Realitales (2000) with Billy Steinberg (Madonna, Pretenders, Celine Dion, etc.), KC Porter (Carlos Santana) Marti Frederiksen (The Cult, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne) and Maia Sharp. She also co-wrote two tracks for the album in London with Stephen Lipson (Annie Lennox, Simple Minds). The music took on a slightly more rocky approach compared to her earlier albums. The artwork for this album was shot by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund (Madonna, U2, Metallica, Macy Gray, Moby), in the landscape of southern Sweden. The concept was to create a dream world in between reality and fairytale.
In 2003 Meja started to work with former Sony Music boss, Richard Ogden. Together they explored the idea of a more organic, acoustic album inspired by Meja’s live concerts. Ogden introduced Meja to Hamish Stuart (The Average White Band), who came to produce the album Mellow recorded in London. Musicians for the album were former Simply Red drummer Gota, jazz drummer Ralph Salmins, bassist Steve Pearce and keyboard player Graham Harvey. To get the Brazilian touch of Bossa, Heitor Perreira, the great Brazilian guitarist and the London-based Brazilian percussionist, Bosco De Oliveira, were added to the team.
She got permission from Caetano Veloso, to translate the well-known Brazilian song "O Leãozinho" to her version called "Little Lion". Japanese magazine AD lib wrote "Mellow is filled with soft and adult music that is indeed mellow, with the acoustic sound based on bossa nova, folk and jazz."
“When Meja’s voice is captured in the jazz frame it can't get any better, like in “Red Light” where her scent of pop cuts against the piano and a Miles Davies style cool trumpet.”
NU Essential (2005)
Sony Music Japan released NU Essential in 2005. An album that captures Meja’s success in Japan over almost 10 years.
Urban Gypsy (2009)
In 2006 Meja went back to Los Angeles to begin the writing and recording of her new album. She continued her over 10-year collaboration with Billy Steinberg, and also adding new writers such as Jeff Barry, Billy Gibbons, Jed Leiber and Boz Boorer (Morrisey). The first single "At the Rainbow's End" was released in June, second single "Regrets (I Have None)" - in August, and the album Urban Gypsy was released on her own label Seven Sisters Network in October 2009 on a license deal with Sony Music. A remix of Mando Diao's "Dance with Somebody" was released early 2010.
As a tribute to the Japanese Studio Ghibli, Meja released an album where she covered soundtracks from their movies for Japan only. The album became a hit and was followed by a successful tour in October 2010, where Meja, for the first time in almost 10 years came back to Japan to meet her fans.
Stroboscope Sky (2015)
Meja's yet most acoustic studio album mainly recorded in her country home in the South of Sweden. "Back to Basics" seem to be the key words on this creation. The vocals have been recorded in her living room and in the tiny closet in the hallway. The inspiration for this album has been collected from the southern raw nature, the ocean and the magical skies. There is a certain peace and calmness that shines thru, The recordings started when Meja, in true 1970s vibe, gathered her musicians and their families to record at Hotel Hovs Hallar located on Cape Bjäre, close to where Ingmar Bergman shot his The Seventh Seal. You can get a glimpse of that atmosphere on the live video to the song "Sleepless" First single "Blame it on the Shadows" was produced by Ebbot Lundberg, The Soundtrack of our Lives, to be followed by "Yellow Ribbon" the freedom song for Albert Woodfox, a man wrongfully accused and sent to solitary confinement for now over 43 years in the US. Meja released this single in collaboration with "Amnesty International" and "Free the Angola 3" to raise awareness to this injustice. The majority of the songs were produced by young talented Nicolas Gunthardt, who also co-wrote on the album.
Charity and NPO Work
FAMN (The Artist Association Against Drugabuse)
Meja started working for Swedish "FAMN" (The Artists Association Against Drugs) in 1991, as a producer of shows with Swedish artists and key speakers to inspire and prevent drug abuse, mainly among schools and teenagers in the risk zone.
Swedish-Tibetan Society for School and Culture
Since 1996 till today's date (2015) Meja has supported "STSSC" Participating in Concerts, having a sponsor child and also building a school in Wuru-Rong in Tibet to help educate the children in the countryside of Tibet.
Artists Help Japan
When the tsunami and big earthquake hit Japan's east coast in 2011, Meja (in collaboration with Growyn) formed the Swedish division of former Pixlar designer Dize Tsutsumis grassroot organisation "Artists Help Japan". Active in Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo and more, Meja wanted to participate in their work. She contacted her artist friends, who donated items for an online auction to raise money to the local NPO Civic Force in Japan. Participating artists were ABBA, The Cardigans, Europe, In Flames, Jonas Åkerlund, Mauro Scocco, Maia Hirasawa, and many more. It became a successful project where help to the elderly and to children were a priority.
Amnesty International / Free the Angola 3 / Yellow Ribbon Freedom Remixes
Standing up for human rights, Meja has been a member of Amnesty International for a long time. On December 24, 2013, she wrote a letter to political prisoner Albert Woodfox, a man placed in solitary confinement in Louisiana, US, for over 43 years, framed and wrongfully accused. His letters in return inspired to her single "Yellow Ribbon", a song for freedom, and her collaboration with Amnesty International and Free the Angola 3 in a fight for justice and freedom for Albert Woodfox. In January 2015 she invited Amnesty International and Free The Angola 3 to Sweden for a joint-venture promotion campaign along with Robert H King, to raise further awareness to the case. The Freedom remixes EP was released in collaboration with Deep Forest (France), DF Tram (US), Steve Miller (UK), NORD (Sweden), Gota Yashiki and Shinichi Osawa (Japan) and DJ Diamond (UK).
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
Compilation and live albums
- Live in Japan-The Flower Girl Jam (1997)
- My Best (2002) (Certifications #JPN:Gold)
- The Nu Essential (2005)
- Original Album Collection (2010)
- AniMeja Studio Ghibli Soundtracks (2010)
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"I'm Missing You"||1996||—||—||—||—||Meja|
|"How Crazy Are You?"||—||—||—||—|
|"Welcome to the Fanclub of Love"||—||—||—||—|
|"I Wanna Make Love"||—||—||—||—|
|"Pop & Television"||1998||—||—||—||—||Seven Sisters|
|"All 'Bout the Money"||4||3||12||37|
|"Lay Me Down"||—||—||—||—|
|"Hippies in the 60's"||—||—||—||—|
|"I'm Here Saying Nothing"||2001||—||—||—||—||My Best|
|"Wake Up Call"||2004||—||—||—||—||Mellow|
|"Life is a River"||—||—||—||—|
|"At the Rainbows End"||2009||—||—||—||—||Urban Gypsy|
|"Regrets (I Have None)"||—||—||—||—|
|"Dance with Somebody"||2010||—||—||—||—|
|"Blame It On the Shadows"||2013||—||—||—||—||Stroboscope Sky|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
As featured artist
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
(Ricky Martin featuring Meja)
- Duet with Povel Ramel "Det ordnar sig alltid" for the 75 year anniversary of SKAP. A fed Winter song with lyrics by Povel Ramel"
- Duet with Freddie Wadling "Annabel Lee" inspired by the poem by Edgar Allan Poe
Awards and Charts
- The North Wave Award, newcomer of the year, 1996, Japan
- POP album of the year, ”meja” Japan 1996
- Grammy Nomination, Category Song of the Year ”All bout the Money” 1998
- Grammy Nomination Category Female Pop/Rock Artist 1998
- Artist of the year, Japan 1999
- Gold Disc Award Norway, 1999
- Gold single sales Denmark (all about the money) 1999
- 14th Japan Gold Disc Awards, 1999, Pop Album of the year, ”Seven Sisters”
- World Music Awards 1999 Best Selling Female Scandinavian Artist, Monte Carlo, Monaco
- The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers Prize Award (SKAP) 2001
- ”Meja” Triple platinum sales in Japan 1996
- ”Seven Sisters” Triple platinum in Japan 1998
- ”Realitales” Gold in Japan 2001
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 2009-10-27. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
- "Discography Meja". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- "Discography Meja". Finnishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- "Discography Meja". Norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- "MEJA". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- "Meja - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- "Ricky Martin - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- "Ricky Martin - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
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