Dutch alternative rocker and songwriter Anouk became not only one of the most successful performers in her native Netherlands, but also found popularity throughout much of Europe. Born in 1975 in the Hague, Anouk grew up with music in her family; her mother was a singer in a blues band. By the time she was 18, Anouk had joined a local R&B group, but it was short-lived -- she left soon after, having been accepted by and subsequently attended the Rotterdam Music Academy.
In 1995, Anouk started her own band, and at a music festival that same year she got her big break, joining Dutch legend Barry Hay of Golden Earring on-stage. Impressed, Hay joined with Golden Earring guitarist George Kooymans to write a song, "Mood Indigo," for the young singer, and it only narrowly missed the Dutch Top 40. By 1997, Anouk's career had taken off with the release of the single "Nobody's Wife," along with her debut full-length, Together Alone. "Nobody's Wife" became a Top Five single across Europe, and the album topped the Dutch charts, quickly reaching platinum status. The album spawned two more hits with "It's So Hard" and the Top Ten "Sacrifice," and also earned Anouk three Edison Awards, including Best Dutch Female Vocalist, in 1998.
Her follow-up album, 1999's Urban Solitude, found Anouk incorporating ska into the first single, "R U Kiddin' Me," as well as exploring hip-hop and funk on tracks like "The Dark" and "Don't." It too was hugely successful in the Netherlands, although not as well-received across the Continent. In addition to strong sales at home, it garnered the singer two more Edison Awards. In 2001, Anouk released Lost Tracks, a collection of unreleased material. It secured Anouk's position as one of the highest-profile musicians in the Netherlands, giving her yet another chart-topping album. Her 2002 release, Graduated Fool, was a hard rock album, while 2004's Hotel New York was much softer and featured two Top Ten Dutch singles, "Girl" and "Lost." The rest of her albums of the 2000s -- including Who's Your Momma? from 2007 and For Bitter or for Worse from 2009 -- were reliable chart-toppers: all featured multiple Top Ten singles, and all went at least double-platinum.
After releasing To Get Her Together in 2011, Anouk represented the Netherlands at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest and made the finals with her entry "Birds." The single also topped the Dutch chart. An accompanying album, Sad Singalong Songs, appeared that same year, and gained favorable reviews across Europe. A concert album, Live at Symphonica in Rosso, appeared early in 2014, and by the end of the year, Anouk was back with her ninth studio album, Paradise and Back Again, which promptly debuted at number one on the Dutch charts. Led by the Top 30 singles "New Day" and "Run Away Together," her next LP, Queen for a Day, also hit number one. ~ Tom Demalon