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Katja Ebstein Bookmark and Share

About:

9 March 1945

Katja Ebstein was born in Breslau (Wroclaw) in Poland as Karin Witkiewicz. She studied at the art academy of Berlin. In her free time she sang jazz and  (student)protest songs in small bars and cafés. Here she met songwriters Christian Bruhn and Heino Gaze. At a festival at castle Waldeck, Hünsruck in 1969 (called Little Woodstock of Germany) she was discovered by Siegfried Loch who was scouting for new young German talent for the international record company Liberty/United Artists. All was set for Katja’s first album simply called ‘Katja’. The album was promoted with ZDF TV special 'Katja - Die Stimme' (Katja – The voice'' ).

On 16 februari 1970 Katja entered the pre selection for the Eurovision with the Christian Bruhn / Günther Loose composition 'Wunder gibt es immer wieder' ('There will always be miracles'). She was chosen to perform at the finals in Amsterdam and ended third place. The song may not have won but was a huge hit across Europe. It started Katja’s international career and she recorded in several different languages. Two times more she would enter the Eurovision competition. In 1971 with 'Diese Welt' and in 1980 with 'Theater'. The last song, written by Ralph Siegel, was set out to win if it wasn’t for Johnny Logan to keep Katja from first place. After this she never tried again.

In 1975 she took to the stage with the Heinrich-Heine-theatre company. Together they performed a Heine-cycle composed by (again) Christian Bruhn. In 1976 the partnership between Bruhn and Ebstein ended however. The record company demanded one more contractial obligated album. In 1977 she therefore recorded an album with well known musical hits 'Wein' nicht um mich, Argentinien'. In 1978 the album 'So wat wie ick et bin … kann nur aus Berlin sein' with was accompanied by the concert program 'Berlin … trotz und alledem'. That Katja was proud over this project comes to show when she reworks the whole concept in 1999.

In 1979 she marries theatre director and writer Klaus Überall. In 1980 he casts her for the role of Rosa Fröhlich in the theatre version of 'Den blauen Engel'. In the original movie, way back in the thirties, this leading role was played by Marlene Dietrich. The eighties bring more plays and musicals like Pirate Jenny in Brechts 'Dreigroschenoper', 'Chicago' and 'Sweet charity'.

In 1993 she performed in 'Victor und Victoria' and she takes on a part in the 'Holocaustdrama Ghetto' von Joshua Sobol in the Staatstheater Meiningen. In between the theatre performances she produces the ARD TV special 'Katja unterwegs in der DDR'. In 1994, she releases the album 'Ebstein', with many famous musical songs from the past thirty years, like 'Wein nicht um mich, Argentinien' from Evita, 'Traumzeit' from 'Cats' and 'Nur ein Blick' from 'Sunset Boulevard'.

It will take untill the new millenium before Katja records and performs new original material. In 2001 she performs with the WDR-Kammersinfonieorchester 'Die Geschichte vom Soldaten' by Igor Strawinsky. This is followed by a concert program called 'Es fällt ein Stern herunter …' with texts by songwriters like Robert Gernhardt, Georg Kreisler, Heinrich Heine, Erich Kästner, Hanns Dieter Hüsch and Loriot.

In 2005 she celebrated her 40th jubilee with the album 'Witkiewicz' (with the single: 'In diesem Land'). Instead of looking in retrospect she asked new young songwriters like Pe Werner and Xavier Naidoo to write material for her. With a new band, lead by Dieter Falk she undertakes a German tour called 'Meine Lieder'. In May and June 2007 she participates in the RTL-dancecontest 'Let's dance' were she ends up second with her dancepartner Oliver Seefeldt. In 2008 she is one of the jury members for the ZDF-musical show 'Showstar'.

Apart from her musical career Katja is politically very active and outspoken. She was an active member of the 1968 student movement, she supported Willy Brandt in 1972 and was arrested in the eighties for participating in a blockade of an American atomic weapon depot in Germany. In 2003 she demonstrated against the war in Iraque. In 1992 she founded the 'Katja Ebstein Foundation' which has the goal to support children in socially weak families. She also supports the social development program in Mali called 'Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe', which helps local people to build houses for poor people. In January 2008 she was awarded with the 'Verdienstkreuz am Bande des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland' for her several socially aware projects. This is the highest - and only - official decoration you can get in Germany.

On the web:

- Katja's website: http://www.ebstein-shop.de
- Fansite: http://www.readysteadygirls.eu/#/katjaebstein/4520836270

If you like this, you probably like.. / european counterparts:

Nicole Croisille (France)

Conny Vandenbos (Holland)

What do we think:

DB: Katja is usually placed in the Schlager corner which is not always fair. Although she has that 'schlager' feel she tends to get her inspiration from the old German cabaret and musicals. Her Eurovision song 'Theater' is an obvious refenrence to that background. Maybe that the lightness of her material give the impression of schlager but compared to an artist like Mary Roos she never made the switch in making music for the Bayerse beerstubes. I think she sees herself rather as a sort of diet-Knef or a poppy-Lemper. To recommend an album is hard though. When in doubt start with a good compilation to see if you like her music.

PR: It's a thin line between pop & schlager... And Katja moves along that line. It is her beautiful voice and her authentic interpretations that make her music actual europopmusic. She knows how to express emotions, on a record, but also on a stage. She is said to have a great stagepersonality and she sure has a track record if performances in musicals, concerts and plays. Be carefull what to buy when you want to start your Katja-collection. As DB already advised, a compilation would be a good introduction, or start with her masterpiece 'Witkiewicz'.

Recommended albums:

♪♪♪♪ - Katja / Inch allah - 1969

♪♪- Wunder gibt es immer wieder - 1970

♪♪ - ...was ich noch singen wollte - 1974

♪♪♪♪ - He du da - 1980

♪♪ - Kopf hoch - 1981;

♪♪♪ - Glashaus - 1981

♪♪♪♪ - Witkiewicz - 2005

Further listening:

Mein Leben ist wie ein Lied - 1970; Freunde - 1971; Wir leben, wir lieben - 1972; Katja - 1973; Wilde Rosen und andere Träume - 1974; Katja Ebstein singt Heinrich Heine - 1975; In Petersburg ist Pferdemarkt - 1976; Liebe - 1977; So wat wie ick et bin … kann nur aus Berlin sein - 1978; Traumzeit??? - 1982; Lyrikerinnen (mit Lutz Görner) - 1991; LiLaLutsche - ich rutsche auf der Rutsche (Kinderlieder) - 1991; Ebstein - 1994; Ave von Medjugorje - Pilgerlieder (mit Inge Brück) - 1996; Lasst Euch nicht verführen! - Katja Ebstein singt und spricht Bertolt Brecht - 1999; Berlin … trotz und alledem! - 1999; Es fällt ein Stern herunter … - 2001
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♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


 

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