23 October 1979
|Genres||Pop, Soul, Alternative rock|
Vanessa Anneliese Petruo (born 23 October 1979) is a German psychotherapist and former singer-songwriter, actress and television personality. Born and raised in Berlin within a family of actors, she had minor roles in television and as a voice actress before she rose to fame as one of the members of the girl group No Angels, which were formed in 2000 on the German television talent show Popstars, becoming one of the best-selling girl groups of European origin of all time. Throughout her musical career, Petruo scored four number-one hits, including "Something About Us", which she co-wrote, and sold over five million albums and singles worldwide.
Following her departure, Petruo scored a top twenty hit with her solo debut single "Drama Queen" and released her only solo album, Mama Lilla Would (2005) to major critical but minor commercial success. In addition, she lent her voice to several animation films such as Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Lilo & Stitch (2002), and Boo, Zino & the Snurks (2004) and starred in the RTL action series Wilde Engel as well as the comedy film Where Is Fred? (2006). While Petruo continued working as a songwriter throughout the late 2000s, further musical projects failed to materialize in 2010, she retired from the recording business in favor of an academic career.
Petruo was born on 23 October 1979 in West Berlin. Her mother Mercedes, a Spanish–Peruvian, owned a salsa nightclub in Berlin-Charlottenburg, and her father Thomas Petruo (1956–2018) was a radio host and actor, best known as the German voice of Plankton in SpongeBob SquarePants. Petruo has two younger siblings, Jon Alexander and Priszilla. Her grandfather, Heinz Petruo (1918–2001), was a famous radio show host for RIAS and also worked as a voice actor, best known as the German dub of Darth Vader in the Star Wars saga. Petruo attended Katholische Schule Sankt Paulus in Berlin-Moabit as well as Liebfrauen-Gymnasium in Berlin-Westend.
Influenced by her father, Petruo herself began dubbing films as a child. Aged twelve, she started taking singing lessons. In her teenage years she made several appearances on German television, while gaining experience in music with her own bands and first professional song recordings. After her high school graduation, Petruo applied herself to her communication studies but quickly chose to leave university in favor of internships at both MTV Germany and news channel N24. She began her professional music career in 1998, forming indie pop duo STiLL with songwriter Bernd Klanke. They released an extended play, STiLL, independently, as they failed to sign a record contract.
2000–2003: Popstars and No Angels
In 2000, Petruo auditioned for German reality television program Popstars. She entered the competition with thousands of other women, and the judges Simone Angel, Rainer Moslener and Mario M. Mendryzcki were impressed with her performance of Bill Withers' hit single "Ain't No Sunshine". She earned a position in the top thirty finalists and travelled to Mallorca, Spain, to join her competitors for a workshop there. In the end Petruo made it to the final ten on the show, and during a special episode in November 2000, jury member Moslener disclosed that Petruo was chosen to become part of the final girl group, later called No Angels, along with Nadja Benaissa, Lucy Diakovska, Sandy Mölling and Jessica Wahls. The five signed a record contract with Polydor Records.
No Angels released their debut single "Daylight in Your Eyes" on 5 February 2001. The song topped the Austrian, German and Swiss Singles Charts, making it one of the most successful debuts of the year. The album Elle'ments mirrored the success of "Daylight in Your Eyes", selling one million units and earning triple platinum and septuplicate gold certifications. The second album Now ... Us! followed the success of Elle'ments, and included the single "Something About Us", written by Petruo. Incorporating autobiographical features, it was inspired by Petruo's experiences with the media the year before. "I recalled the past year, the good and the bad times, and I built my own personal resume", she stated.
Altogether the albums spawned twelve singles, including four number 1 singles and ten Top 10 hits, making the No Angels the most successful European girl group of their era with more than 5 million singles and albums sold.
On 5 September 2003, the group announced that they would no longer be performing together after three years of continual touring and increasing cases of illness. The release of The Best of No Angels in November of the same year marked the end of the band, whose members each went their separate ways. While some decided to go for motherhood or musical and television careers, Vanessa Petruo planned to take a longer vacation.
No Angels announced a reunion on 31 January 2007, however Vanessa declined to join the other four due to focusing on her solo career.
2003–2009: Solo career
Petruo became the first member of No Angels to launch a career as a solo artist. In April 2004, she released her first single "Drama Queen", co-written along with No Angels collaborators Thorsten Brötzmann and Alexander Geringas, under her nickname Vany. A moderate commercial success, the uptempo song peaked at number eleven on the German Singles Chart. While a video for a second single called "Pop That Melody", produced by Mousse T, was filmed, its release was soon cancelled. Instead, Petruo worked as a simple employee for her record company Cheyenne Records for a couple of months. Following the extension of her recording contract with Polydor and Popstars imprint Cheyenne Records, she signed with Universal Island and her second single "Hot Blooded Woman", followed up by her critically acclaimed but minor successful first solo album Mama Lilla Would in November 2005.
on Petruo also spent time on dubbing movies (including Lilo & Stitch and Back to Gaya) and acting, most noticeably as a member of the main cast of Wilde Engel, a TV action series influenced by Charlie's Angels whose four episodes were broadcast in April 2005. In fall 2006, she starred alongside Til Schweiger and Alexandra Maria Lara in the motion picture Where Is Fred?. Still in 2006 Petruo went also on tour with famous soul singer Solounge. In August 2007, Peturo announced that she had left Universal Island due to varying viewpoints in music and marketing. At the 2009 Echo Awards, Vanessa stated that her new album was scheduled for an August 2009 release, but stated in March 2010 that she wanted to wait before releasing an album, avoiding bad media reviews caused by No Angels the previous year (especially Nadja Benaissa's case). She said that she was wishing the girls all the best but that they did not remain friends. On 13 March 2010, Petruo posted on her Facebook page and YouTube account a brand new demo from her forthcoming album, "Happy", a fresh song aimed "for those who are in love". She thanked her fans for their patience, stating again that the album would be released very soon.
|Title||Album details||Peak positions|
|Mama Lilla Would||—||—||—|
|"Drama Queen"||2004||11||35||88||non-album single|
|"Hot Blooded Woman"||2005||59||—||—||Mama Lilla Would|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|Pet Sematary||1989||Ellie Creed||(Voice) Dubbed German version|
|Good Times, Bad Times||1998||Unknown||(TV) Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten|
|Behind Bars – The Women's Prison||2002||Astrid||(TV) Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenknast|
|The Little Polar Bear||2001||Manili||(Voice) Der kleine Eisbär|
|Dr. Dolittle 2||2001||Ava / Girl Bear||(Voice) Dubbed German version|
|Lilo & Stitch||2002||Nani||(Voice) Dubbed German version|
|Boo, Zino & the Snurks||2004||Alanta||(Voice) Back to Gaya|
|3 Wild Angels||2005||Rebecca||(TV) Wilde Engel|
|Where Is Fred?||2005||Julia||Wo ist Fred?|
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