A Dutch veterinarian’s daughter who is building a following in the United States as a French chanteuse: That’s the story of Paulien. Growing up in a large and closely knit Dutch family who spent long summer holidays in the French countryside, Paulien got an early exposure to the French culture and language, while back home mimicking contemporary singers like Françoise Hardy in front of a mirror with a vacuum hose. This led to her entry and ultimate win of a local singing contest in The Hague at the age of 12, heralded by the French ambassador to the Netherlands and offered a very modest recording deal for one EP at a local studio.
Paulien’s distinctive voice has been well known in Europe since the mid-nineties from several recordings she mostly did in French. While touring nationally and internationally with Holland’s most successful student band of the mid-eighties, her repertoire was dominated by contemporary covers of hit songs, but also included highly sophisticated Brazilian hits by Gal Costa sung in Portuguese. Later on she formed her own band “High Five” with Rotterdam Conservatory graduates.
At one of her gigs in 1995 she was approached by two Dutch producers, who were looking for a French speaking singer to record a concept dance album including a contemporary – 160 beats per minute – re-make of the classic song “Dominique”. The song turned out to be a top ten hit all over Europe and Asia. It led the Japanese charts for six weeks in a row in 1996. She ultimately signed with the Italian owned Dino label and contributed to several of their projects of which her version of Evita’s “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” became another super seller.
After immigrating to the United States with her husband and children in 2001 – six weeks before 9-11 – it seemed that she had departed from a potentially very promising project of original songs, composed by Dutch arranger and bass player Lené te Voortwis and French poet François Trémouille. In the turbulent days after the attacks – when French fries became freedom fries – promoting French music did not seem viable. (some rough cuts of these recordings can be found under music).
Occasionally performing with local musicians in her new hometown of Charlottesville, VA, Paulien ran into guitarist and composer Royce Campbell, who literarily fell in love with her voice. Within a year they recorded her self-titled album “Paulien” with all original songs written by Campbell.
Testing the market with the Royce Campbell project, Paulien started to include French repertoire in their gigs. With standing ovations for her interpretation of classics like Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” and Jacques Brel’s ”Ne Me Quitte Pas” (“If You Go Away”), the French project from which she had departed in 2001 is back on the table. Paulien’s style goes deep, straight ahead and free from vocal affectations…so, close your eyes, open your ears and float on her rediscovered sound from Paris.