Laleh Biography

Laleh Pourkarim (Persian: لاله پورکریم, born June 10, 1982) is an Iranian born Swedish singer-songwriter and former actress. She uses her given name Laleh as her stage name.

She had her musical breakthrough in 2005 with her first single "Invisible (My Song)". Her third single "Live Tomorrow" had even greater success and ended up at the top of Sveriges Radio P3's radio show "Tracks" (Trackslistan) for several weeks. She personally produces and writes her albums and has sung in English, Swedish and Persian. At the 2005 Swedish Grammis Awards, she received seven nominations and won three: Artist of the Year, Producer of the Year, and New Artist of the Year. Her latest album, Sjung, was released in Scandanavia on 25 January 2012.

Background and personal life

Laleh was originally born in the Northern Iranian harbour town of Bandar-e Anzali but fled the country a year later with her parents to live in Azerbaijan, Minsk and later in a refugee camp in Tidaholm. She moved to Sweden when she was twelve, and in her teenage years came to Gothenburg to attended school in the multicultural district of Angered. At Hvitfeldtska High School she studied the music program and grew up with classical music, ballet and circus music. She later got interested in punk, reggae and jazz music. She also learned to play the guitar and formed a jazz ensemble, Bejola, with her music teacher when she was a teenager, and went on to teach herself to play percussion and saxophone.

She is the daughter of Houshang Pourkarim who drowned in August 1994. A well-known opponent to the repressive regime in Tehran, he was an artist, journalist and prominent Iranian ethnologist and rural sociologist from Bandar-e Anzali. During her appearance on Så mycket bättre she discussed her tough childhood moving from country to country and how she witnessed her father drowning in 1994 when he rescued a woman in distress whose canoe fell into the water while at a summer camp organising an Iranian union. As Houshang paddled out to help her, the canoe overturned with the woman surviving but Laleh's father drowning. She also mentioned why she choose to become a vegetarian. Laleh's mother, Atef, was a refugee from Georgia and Azerbaijan before she came to Iran to study comparative literature at the University of Tehran. Once the family arrived in Sweden, Atef taught Laleh Swedish in reportedly only eleven days.

Beginning her career in acting, she had a major role in the Swedish movie Jalla! Jalla!, directed by Josef Fares, which was a big success at the Swedish box office in 2000. Laleh moved to Stockholm in 2010 following a short stint in Skellefteå.

Early career

Laleh founded her own production and publishing company 'Lost Army' and signed a recording and distribution contract with Warner Music Sweden before recording her first studio album. The sound of her early songs have been compared to adult contemporary artists such as Sting and Seal. She wrote, performed, and produced her self-titled debut, which was released in the spring of 2005. It became the highest selling album of the year and reached number one on the Swedish chart. In 2006, Prinsessor ("Princesses") was released and peaked at number three on the Swedish album chart. After taking a break, Laleh returned to release her third studio album in 2009, Me and Simon. It contained a more folk pop sound than previous rock or soul-tinged tracks which has been attributed to the surroundings of moving from a big city to the northern Swedish town of Skellefteå in 2006. One of the nature reserves in the town was her inspiration for "Bjurö klubb".

Laleh has toured in several Scandinavian countries, Britain and Germany but has previously hinted that she is hesitant to launch overseas, saying she wants to be more prepared and develop fully as an artist. She has become known for her reluctance to give interviews and has been noted for her unconventional way of handling the press by attempting to keep her private life out of the media.

Så mycket bättre and Sjung

In 2011 she took part in the second season of Swedish reality TV show Så mycket bättre (So much better) on TV4. The show is for well-known Swedish musicians to create new interpretations of the other artists songs. She participated with Timbuktu, Eva Dahlgren, Lena Philipsson, E-Type, Tomas Ledin and Mikael Wiehe. She soon emerged as the favourite with her cover versions regularly topping the Swedish iTunes download charts and the official Sverigetopplistan downloads chart following the release of the weekly compilations of the week's covers from the show. Laleh's cover of Eva Dahlgren "Ängeln I Rummet" (Angel in the Room) reached number six on the official Swedish Singles Chart whilst topping the downloads chart in December 2011. This made the highest charting single of her career in Sweden. Similarly her renditions of Tomas Ledin's "Just Nu" (Right Now) and Timbuktu's "Alla vill till himmelen men ingen vill dö" (Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die) peaked at number 25, whilst "Here I Go Again" peaked at number one on the downloads chart. During the showings of Så mycket bättre, Laleh broke a Swedish digital chart record by having ten songs on the top sixty list, including nine inside the top 40, as a number of older songs also returned to the chart, with the first placement of "Bjurö klubb". Additionally two interpretations of her songs from the show by other artists appeared, to bring a total of twelve songs she had involvement with in the chart at once. Tolkningarna (Interpretations), an extended play of all of the songs she performed on the show will be released on the 25 December 2011.

Her fourth studio album was originally due to be released in December 2011 to coincide with her appearance on Så mycket bättre, but it was postponed due to scheduling difficulties with the show. The name, artwork, release date and track listing of the album was later announced in December. The album is entitled Sjung (Sing) and consists of eight English language songs and three in Swedish, with the English songs leading of the album in a similar vein to Me and Simon. It will be released on 25 January 2012, with a tour to promote the album being announced at the end of November 2011 with fifteen dates across Sweden beginning in March and concluding in April 2012.
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