Nina Hagen - The unclassic opera singer
With her extravagant accoutrements and outrageous makeup, her vocal acrobatics sometimes flirting with the shrill, sometimes with the roar, Nina Hagen arrives on the planet punk like a UFO in the 1970s. Originally from East Berlin but emigrating to the West when her stepfather is accused of dissent, she quickly rubs with bands like the Sex Pistols or the Slits, before setting up her own group in 1977, the Nina Hagen Band.
She lays the groundwork for her unconventional style between rock and opera, characterized by a singing that is more akin to trance in albums like 'Nina Hagen Band' (1978) or 'Unbehagen' (1979), which the delirious 'African Reggae' which quickly became a worldwide hit.
If Nina Hagen then makes more records, the sulfurous picture that was forged catches up with allusions to hallucinations about aliens or about God while fans are still more interested in her current music. Despite her attempts to return to a more conventional style with 'Street' in 1991, it was not until 1999 and the release of 'Om Namah Shivay' composed entirely of Indian melodies that Nina Hagen returns to her full reputation. Now full of Hindu mysticism, her songs reflect a relative calm, like 'Sweet Lord Concept Album' in 2006.
Nina Hagen is of course a phenomenon. Born in East Berlin in 1955, she moved to the West in 1976, then she went to London where she meets great bands including the Sex Pistols. She became an icon of the punk-rock scene, with her theatrical and disturbing voice floating on staggered rhythms (as in African Reggae on the mythical album Unbehagen 1979). From scandal to success (remember her interpretation of My Way), Nina Hagen is still there, more unpredictable and eccentric than ever. She speaks of aliens and hosts science fiction TV shows, she campaigned for animal rights and against war in Iraq, she starred in The Threepenny Opera, she wrote and retraces her path to God. Anyway, if she does not sing about the discomfort of a generation, she continues to confuse.
Nina is a woman with many facets. First a German girl raised in the East by a stepfather singer communist dissident. As an emigrant in the West she meets the first punks in the hangars tagged on the wall. Then she becomes a cult star who walks the planet with costumes and makeup for theater, clown chameleon, sometimes dressed as a sailor, sometimes a vamp, always provocative. She is a myth, a singer with a phenomenal voice, tickling eardrums with acute notes or getting lost in a cavernous bass, roaring and able to do anything with her vocal cords.
This Californian woman who sees mysticals alien and asks about her karma and recently was the unlikely star of a reality show in Germany is unique. Excessive with turbulent love affairs, wild say those who love her originality and a fantastic artist! Artist indeed, because it takes quite some talent to live and create these multiple roles without really revealing oneself. Skipping from punk to opera, from rock to Berlin cabaret and the ragas musical, what a range!