Anggun Cipta Sasmi (Indonesian pronunciation: ˈaŋɡun ˈt͡ʃipta ˈsasmi; born 29 April 1974) is an Indonesian and French-naturalised singer-songwriter. Born in Jakarta, she began performing at the age of seven and recorded a children's album two years later. With the help of famed Indonesian producer Ian Antono, in 1986 Anggun released her first rock-influenced studio album, Dunia Aku Punya (The World is Mine). She became further well known with the single "Mimpi" (1989), which was listed as one of the 150 Greatest Indonesian Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone. She followed it with a series of singles and three more studio albums, which established her as one of the most prominent Indonesian rock stars of the early 1990s.
Anggun left Indonesia in 1994 to pursue an international career. After two years struggling in London and Paris, Anggun met French producer Erick Benzi and signed to Sony Music Entertainment. She released her first international album, Snow on the Sahara (1997), in 33 countries worldwide; this album spawned her international signature hit "Snow on the Sahara", which reached number one in several countries. Since her international breakthrough, Anggun has released five studio albums in English and French, as well as a soundtrack album to the Danish film Open Hearts (2002). She has collaborated with a host of international artists, including Julio Iglesias, Peter Gabriel and Pras Michel of the Fugees.
Anggun is the first Indonesian artist to break into the European and American record charts. Her albums have been certified gold and platinum in several European countries. She has received a number of accolades for her achievements, including the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French Minister of Culture. Aside from her musical career, Anggun has been involved in numerous environmental and humanitarian works. She has been appointed as the global ambassador of the United Nations twice, first for the International Year of Microcredit in 2005 and then for the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009. Anggun represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Life and career edit:
1974-93: Early life and career in Indonesia edit:
Anggun, the second child and first daughter of Darto Singo, a Javanese writer, and Dien Herdina, a housewife from the Yogyakartan royal family, was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. Her full name means "grace born of a dream" in Balinese. Despite being a Muslim, Anggun was sent to a Catholic school to receive a better elementary education. At the age of seven, Anggun began receiving highly disciplined instruction in singing from her father. She trained on a daily basis, learning various vocal techniques. To help further develop her career, her mother began serving as her manager, accepting singing offers and handling business concerns. At the age of nine, Anggun began to write her own songs and recorded her first children's album.
"Tua Tua Keladi" (1990)
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One of Anggun's biggest Indonesian hits in early 1990s. "Tua Tua Keladi" ("Dirty Old Man") was heavily influenced by rock music, her musical trademark at the time.
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As a preteen, Anggun was influenced by Western rock music artists. At the age of twelve, she released her first official studio album, Dunia Aku Punya (The World is Mine; 1986). The album was produced by Ian Antono, a famous Indonesian rock musician. However, the album failed to establish her popularity. Three years later, Anggun rocketed to fame after the release of the slow rock single "Mimpi" ("Dream"); the song was later ranked by the Rolling Stone Indonesia magazine as one of the 150 Greatest Indonesian Songs of All Time. Anggun's fame continued to increase with the release of subsequent singles, most notably "Tua Tua Keladi" (1990), which became her most popular hit in Indonesia. After a string of successful singles, Anggun released the studio albums Anak Putih Abu Abu (High School Kids; 1991) and Nocturno (1992). The former earned her the Most Popular Indonesian Artist 1990-1991 award.
In 1992, Anggun began a relationship with Michel Georgea, a French engineer, whom she had met the year before in Kalimantan while touring. The couple married, despite a rumored objection by Anggun's family, reportedly because they felt Anggun was too young to get married. Georgea later became Anggun's manager. The following year, Anggun became the youngest Indonesian singer to found her own record company, Bali Cipta Records, and took total creative control over her works. She produced her final Indonesian studio album, Anggun C. Sasmi... Lah!!! (1993), which yielded number-one single "Kembalilah Kasih (Kita Harus Bicara)" ("Return Dear (We Need to Talk)"). By the age of nineteen, Anggun had sold over four million albums in Indonesia. She began to feel dissatisfied with her success in her country and began considering an international music career. Anggun later recalled: "By the time I was 20, I'd made five albums. I'd built my own record company. I'd produced my last album and produced some Indonesian acts as well. And I said to myself: 'I'm tired! I cannot achieve more than I already have. There's no challenge anymore'."
1994-96: Beginnings in Europe edit:
"I dreamt of having this international career, but producers won't come to Indonesia to look for talent when there is so much available in their own countries. I had to go there. I was curious, and I think it's good to change. In Indonesia, we don't have that much information coming in; it comes from just one source. And the Internet wasn't as big as it is now."
Anggun in an interview with journalist Chuck Taylor from Billboard magazine in 1998.
In 1994, Anggun released Yang Hilang, a greatest hits album compiling her Indonesian hits. She later sold her record company to fund her move to Europe. Having given up all of her success in Indonesia, Anggun and her husband went to London, England and stayed there for about one year. In a 2006 interview with Trax magazine, Anggun admitted to experiencing "culture shock" and having some serious financial problems while trying to start her new life in Europe, saying "I thought the money that I got by selling my record company was enough to sustain life in London, but I began to lose money, little by little. I had to spend so much on taking cabs and eating! So I ended up taking buses everywhere and going to clubs to introduce myself as a singer." She also admitted that she "had to convert from being a shy, introverted, 'real' Javanese woman to being an unabashed, fearless, 'fake' Javanese woman."
She began writing songs and recording demos, but after a few months, all the demos she had sent to record companies around England came back with negative replies. She eventually realized that her career in England was going nowhere and began thinking about moving to another country. She initially thought about moving to the Netherlands, but later decided on France instead. In 1996, her international career began to advance; she was introduced to producer Erick Benzi, who previously had worked with well-known artists such as Celine Dion, Jean-Jacques Goldman and Johnny Hallyday. Impressed by Anggun's talent, Benzi immediately offered her a recording deal. Later that year, Anggun was signed to Columbia France and Sony Music Entertainment. After a brief French course at Alliance Française, Anggun began working on her debut album with Benzi, alongside Jacques Veneruso, Gildas Arzel and Nikki Matheson.
1997-99: Snow on the Sahara and international success edit:
In June 1997, Anggun released her first French-language album, entitled Au nom de la lune. The album was a huge artistic departure to Anggun's earlier rock style, experimenting with world music and more adult contemporary sounds. Anggun described the album as "a concentration of all the musical influences of my life. I want to introduce Indonesia, but in a progressive way, in a lyric, in a sound, and mainly through me." The album's first single, "La neige au Sahara", quickly became a hit in France, peaking at number 1 on the French Airplay Chart and number 16 on the French Singles Chart. It became the most-played single in France of 1997, with a total of 7,900 radio airplays, and was certified silver with 209,000 copies sold. Two more commercial singles, "La rose des vents" and "Au nom de la lune", were released to modest chart success. The album peaked at number 34 on the French Albums Chart and sold over 150,000 copies in France and Belgium. Anggun received a nomination for the La révélation de l'année award (Revelation of the Year/Best New Artist) in Victoires de la musique (a Grammy Award-equivalent in the French music scene).
The English version of the album, Snow on the Sahara, was released internationally in 33 countries throughout Asia, Europe, and America between late 1997 to early 1999. The album contained the songs on Au nom de la lune, adapted to English by songwriter Nikki Matheson, and a cover version of the David Bowie hit "Life on Mars?". For the southeast Asian market, Anggun included an Indonesian song, "Kembali" ("Return"), which became a huge hit in the region. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic called the album "a promising debut effort" because "she illustrates enough full-formed talent on the disc". According to Erlewine, Anggun "tackles polished ballads, Latin-pop and dance-pop on Snow on the Sahara, demonstrating that she can sing all the styles quite well." The album's first single, "Snow on the Sahara" was a commercial success, reaching number one in Italy, Spain and several countries in Asia, and the top five on the UK Club Chart. The song was also used as the soundtrack for an international marketing campaign launched by the Swiss watchmaker Swatch.Snow on the Sahara has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide and received the Diamond Export Sales Award.
In the United States, Snow on the Sahara was released in May 1998 by Epic Records. Anggun went on an extensive tour for nine months in the United States to promote the album, including a supporting act for several artists such as The Corrs and Toni Braxton, as well as participating at the Lilith Fair (performing with Sarah McLachlan and Erykah Badu on stage). She also appeared on American television programs such as The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Sessions at West 54th and received a CNN WorldBeat interview; she was also given large amounts of coverage in printed media like Rolling Stone and Billboard. Despite the publicity, Snow on the Sahara was not much of a commercial success in the United States. The album peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart and shipped 200,000 units. Nevertheless, it still remains one of the highest selling albums by an Asian artist on the market. The title track reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play and number 22 on the Billboard Adult Top 40.
2000-03: Chrysalis, Open Hearts and collaborations edit:
In 1999, Anggun ended her seven-year marriage to Michel Georgea; this inspired her to record another studio album. Her second French album, Désirs contraires, was released in September 1999. It was an artistic departure from Au nom de la lune, experimenting with electronic pop and ambient elements as well as R&B music. Erick Benzi again produced the album. Although it featured some of Anggun's compositions, Désirs contraires failed to repeat the success of the previous album. It peaked at number 48 on the French Albums Chart and sold about 30,000 copies in France. Only two singles were released off the album: the tropical-sounding "Un geste d'amour" and the R&B-influenced "Derrière la porte". Both singles failed to achieve commercial success, although "Un geste d'amour" reached number 62 on the French Singles Chart.
It was the English version of the album that enjoyed more success. Chrysalis was released shortly after Désirs contraires and represented a huge artistic growth for Anggun, who had co-written the entire album. Distributed simultaneously in 15 countries, the album was never released in the United States due to the lackluster sales of her first album. The album spawned the hit single "Still Reminds Me", which received high airplays across Asia and Europe. It became her third number-one hit in Indonesia since her international career and her third top 20 single in Italy (peaking at number 17). It also reached the top five on the Music & Media European Border Breakers Chart. She released a single specially for the Indonesian and Malaysian market, "Yang 'Ku Tunggu" ("That which I Wait For"; the Indonesian version of "Un geste d'amour"), which became another number-one hit for Anggun in the region.
At the end of 2000 Anggun received an invitation from the Vatican, asking her to appear at a special Christmas concert alongside Bryan Adams and Dionne Warwick. For the event, she gave her renditions of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as well as "Still Reminds Me". Her performance was also included on the Noël au Vatican disc compilation. The following month, she started a tour across Asia and Europe, including her first ever concert in France at Le Bataclan on 1 February 2001. The tour ended on 30 April 2001 at Kallang Theater, Singapore. Anggun received the Cosmopolitan Asia Woman Award in 2000 and Woman Inspired Award in 2002 for becoming an internationally successful female Asian artist.
During this period, Anggun also did a string of collaborations, soundtrack projects, and charity albums. These included a mixed French- and English-language song with DJ Cam entitled "Summer in Paris" (which later became a club hit in Europe and Asia for both artists) on his 2001 album, Soulshine; an Indonesian-English song with Deep Forest entitled "Deep Blue Sea" on their 2002 album, Music Detected; and three collaborations in 2003, including with Italian rock singers Piero Pelù, Serge Lama and Tri Yann. She also participated in several charity projects such as Echoes of the Earth in 2000, Les voix de l'espoir in 2001 and Gaia in 2002 (featuring a duet with Zucchero on the song "World"). Her duet with Piero Pelù on an Italian-English song entitled "Amore Immaginato" became a hit in Italy, spending over two months at the top of Italian Airplay Chart.
Anggun also participated in two Scandinavian movies: contributing the song "Rain (Here Without You)" for Anja & Viktor in 2001, and the entire soundtrack album for Open Hearts in 2002. For Open Hearts, Anggun worked with two Danish producers, Jesper Winge Leisner and Niels Brinck. "Open Your Heart" was released as a commercial single from the soundtrack album and charted at number 51 on the Norwegian Singles Chart. It also earned Anggun a nomination for Best Song at the 2003 Robert Awards, the Danish equivalent of Academy Awards. "Counting Down" was also released as a single and became a top-ten airplay hit in Indonesia. Anggun's work with Sony Music ended in 2003 due to the company's structural change after merger with BMG Music. She later moved to Montreal, Canada where she met Olivier Maury, a law school graduate. In 2004, Anggun and Maury were married in a private ceremony in Bali.
2004-06: Luminescence edit:
In 2004, Anggun returned to Paris and landed a new record deal with Heben Music, an independent label under Sony BMG France and Universal Music International. She began working on a next album with several producers, including Jean-Pierre Taieb and Frederic Jaffre. Anggun, who composes mainly in English, enlisted the help of several well-known French songwriters, such as Jean Fauque, Lionel Florence, Tété and Evelyn Kral to adapt her English songs into French. In late 2004, Anggun released her first solo French single in nearly four years, "Être une femme". The single was available in two versions: one solo version for commercial release and a duet with Diam's for radio release. It became Anggun's second Top 20 hit in France, peaking at number 16 on the French Singles Chart, matching the peak of her debut single seven years earlier. It also became Anggun's first French single to chart on the Switzerland Singles Chart, peaking at number 58. Released in February 2005, Anggun's third French album, Luminescence, debuted at number 30 on French Albums Chart and was later certified gold for selling 100,000 copies. The second single, "Cesse la pluie" also became a hit, peaking at number 10 in Belgium, 22 in France and 65 in Switzerland.
The English version of Luminescence--sharing the same title with the French counterpart--was released in August 2005 in Europe and Asia. "Undress Me" was chosen as the first single from the English version. Although it wasn't accompanied with a music video, it debuted at number 13 in Italy, becoming her fifth top 20 single there. It also provided Anggun with her first hit in the Middle East, where the song topped the charts in Lebanon and Turkey. "In Your Mind" was released as the second single and it became a huge hit in Asia. The third single, "Saviour", was used as the soundtrack for the box-office movie Transporter 2.
Anggun was awarded with the prestigious distinction Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for her worldwide achievements and her support of the French culture. She was appointed as the spokesperson for the International Year of Microcredit, a United Nations program aimed at eradicating debt in the third world, as well as the ambassadress for a Swiss watch brand, Audemars Piguet. During the period, she did a duet with Peter Gabriel on the charity album Genesis (2004), as well as with Julio Iglesias on a reworked version of "All of You" for his album Romantic Classics (2006). Anggun participated on the 2006 Fight AIDS campaign in France with a collaborative track entitled "L'Or de nos vies" with several other French musicians.
In August 2006, Anggun released the special edition of both the French and English versions of Luminescence with three additional new tracks. She made a large jump on the French Albums Chart from number 119 to number 16 (a total 103 ranks) with the release, making Luminescence her best-charting album to date in France. "Juste avant toi", the new single from the special edition, became Anggun's fourth Top 40 hit, peaking at number 28 on the French Singles Chart. Meanwhile its English version, "I'll Be Alright", became Anggun's seventh number-one hit in Indonesia.Luminescence was re-issued in February 2007 and peaked at number three on the French Back Calatogue Chart.
In December 2006, Anggun received the special recognition "Best International Artist" at Anugerah Musik Indonesia, the highest music awards ceremony in Indonesia. The award was given for her role in introducing Indonesian music to the international recording industry. Subsequently, Anggun released her Best-Of album in Indonesia and Malaysia, which compiled all her international hits, including three re-recorded versions of her early Indonesian hits. The new version of "Mimpi" was released as a radio single and became a huge hit in Indonesia in late 2006 to early 2007. Anggun later released Best-Of for Italian market with different tracklisting and "I'll Be Alright" as its lead single. She was also featured on German band Reamonn's single "Tonight" and a charity single with several female French stars, titled "Pour que tu sois libre".
2007-10: Motherhood and Elevation edit:
After her marriage to Olivier Maury ended in 2006, Anggun began a relationship with French writer Cyril Montana, whom she eventually married. She gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Kirana Cipta Montana, on 8 November 2007. During the year, Anggun participated in several environmental projects. She became the narrator of BBC documentary film Un jour sur terre (or Earth), as well as composed its soundtrack single, "Un jour sur terre". She was appointed as the Ambassador of the Micro-environment Prize by the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development and National Geographic Channel. Anggun was awarded "Le grand cœur de l'année" by French television network Filles TV for her contribution in social and environmental events. In December 2007, she again received an invitation from the Vatican to perform in the Christmas concert in Verona, Italy, along with Michael Bolton. She also performed the reworked version of "No Stress" with Laurent Wolf at the 2008 World Music Awards in Monaco. The performance was so well received by audiences that Wolf eventually added Anggun's version onto the deluxe edition of his album Wash My World.
In late 2008, Anggun released her fourth international studio album, Elevation, which shares the same title in both English and French. A departure from the style of her previous efforts, the album experimented with urban music and hip hop.Elevation was produced by hip hop producer pair Tefa & Masta and features collaboration with rappers Pras Michel from the Fugees, Sinik, and Big Ali. Anggun moved from major label Sony BMG to Warner Music. However, Sony BMG still holds the rights to distribute this album in the Asian market. "Crazy" was released as the lead single from the album, with its French and Indonesian version, "Si tu l'avoues" and "Jadi Milikmu", serving as the first single for the respective territories. In Russia, Elevation was released with an additional song, "О нас с тобой", which was recorded as a duet with Russian singer Max Lorens. Prior to its official release, the album had already been certified double platinum, making it the fastest-selling album of her career in Indonesia. In France, the album debuted at number 36 on the French Albums Chart.
Anggun's four-year ambassadress contract with Audemars Piguet was subsequently extended. She was also chosen by international hair care brand, Pantene, and New Zealand-based dairy product, Anlene, as their ambassador. On 16 October 2009, Anggun was appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), part of the United Nations. Anggun also served as a judge for Miss France 2009. In early 2010, Anggun recorded a duet with Portuguese singer Mickael Carreira on the song "Chama por me (Call My Name)", as well as performed at his concert in Lisbon, Portugal on 26 February 2010. She collaborated with German electronica musician Schiller, co-writing and contributing lead vocals to two tracks, "Always You" and "Blind", for his album Atemlos (2010). Anggun was also featured on Schiller's concert series, Atemlos Tour, in 14 cities in Germany during May 2010.
2011-present: Echoes, Eurovision and X Factor Indonesia edit:
In March 2011, Anggun announced the titles of her fifth international studio album, Echoes for the English version and Échos for the French version. It is her first self-produced international album. She collaborated with musicians Gioacchino, Pierre Jaconelli, Jean-Pierre Pilot, and William Rousseau. Anggun left Heben Music to found her own record label, April Earth. To distribute the album, Anggun gave the rights to Warner Music in Europe and Sony Music in Asia. The English version was first released in Indonesia in May 2011. It topped the Indonesian Albums Chart and was certified platinum in the first week. It was eventually certified quadruple platinum and became the best-selling pop album of 2011. "Only Love" and its Indonesian version "Hanyalah Cinta" were released as the lead singles and became number-one radio hits. The French version was released in November 2011 and debuted at number 57 on the French Albums Chart. "Je partirai" was released as the first single and reached number five in Belgium. Anggun held her second major concert at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, entitled "Konser Kilau Anggun", on 27 November 2011. She also appeared for the third time at the Christmas concert in the Vatican. This time, she performed "Only Love" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", the latter in a duet with Ronan Keating.
Anggun was chosen by France Télévisions to represent France in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. She wrote her Eurovision entry, "Echo (You and I)", alongside William Rousseau and Jean-Pierre Pilot. The song was also released in four different duet versions, with Claudia Faniello for Malta, with Niels Brinck for Denmark, with Viktor Varga for Hungary and with Keo for Romania. Anggun held an extensive tour to more than 15 countries in Europe to promote the song. She performed "Echo (You and I)" in the Eurovision grand final in Baku, Azerbaijan on on 26 May 2012, wearing a dress designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. The song finished in 22nd place with 21 points. Anggun later told the press that she had originally hoped to reach a place within the top 10 and was deeply disappointed with the final result.
In March 2012, Anggun released the international edition of Echoes with "Echo (You and I)" as the lead single. A special edition of Échos was also released in France, featuring three additional new tracks. After completing her work for the Eurovision, she continued the promotion of the album. Anggun embarked on a concert tour in several cities across France, Switzerland and New Caledonia, including her sold-out concert in Le Trianon, Paris, on 13 June 2012. She also toured with Schiller in 10 cities in Germany during late November and early December 2012. At the same time, it was announced that Anggun would join the judging panel for the first season of the X Factor Indonesia. She participated on the musical project Thérèse - Vivre d'amour, a concept album of the poems by St. Therese of Lisieux. Anggun recorded two duets with Canadian singer Natasha St-Pier, "Vivre d'amour" and "La fiancée", for the album. In May 2013, Anggun released a greatest hits album entitiled Best-Of: Design of a Decade 2003-2013. A new version of "Snow on the Sahara" produced by Lebanese-Canadian musician K.Maro was sent to Indonesian radios to promote the album. At the 2013 World Music Awards, Anggun is nominated for three categories: World's Best Female Artist, World's Best Live Act and World's Best Entertainer of the Year.
Artistry, image and legacy edit:
Anggun possesses a 3.5-octave vocal range and is known for her deep, husky contralto voice.Chuck Taylor from Billboard commented: "Vocally, Anggun is a fortress of power, easing from a delicate whisper into a brand of cloud-parting fortitude commonly associated with grade-A divas."John Everson from The SouthtownStar noted that "Anggun is gifted with a warm, full voice that can tackle slight pop songs without overpowering them as well as swoop with depth and ease over heavier emotional numbers." At first she was influenced by rock bands such as Guns N' Roses, Bon Jovi, and Megadeth, which showed in her Indonesian albums. After going international, Anggun became more variable in her stylings, changing for each album. Her other musical influences include Sheila Chandra, Sting, David Bowie, and The Beatles. Anggun, who has studied Balinese dance, uses the traditional art in her performances.
Anggun is often called "the Indonesian Diva" by both Indonesian and international press. At the early stage of her career as a rock singer, Anggun was known for her unique tomboy look--wearing a crooked beret, shorts, studded jacket, and large belt; this set a trend during the early 1990s. However, after going international Anggun has focused on femininity and sexuality, emphasising her long black hair and brown skin. For this look she utilises the work of fashion designers like Azzedine Alaïa, Dolce & Gabbana, and Roberto Cavalli. In 2010, Anggun was ranked at number 18 on the FHM magazine's list of 100 Sexiest Women in the World.
Despite her success as a singer, Anggun has yet to branch out into different mediums. When promoting her first international album in the United States, she was reportedly offed a role as a Bond Girl in The World Is Not Enough, as well as in High Fidelity. However, she refused; these roles later went to Sophie Marceau and Lisa Bonet. When explaining her refusal, Anggun said "I was born a singer. I won't go into another profession, because I think there are still many people out there who were born to be movie stars or models. My calling is in music." She tends to be selective when choosing products to promote.
Anggun was among the first singers from Asia to have a strong showing on the European and American markets, which helped open the way for other Asian singers such as Coco Lee, Utada Hikaru, and Tata Young. Malaysian singer Yuna asked Anggun's guidance when launching her recording career in the United States in 2011. Filipino journalist Lionel Zivan S. Valdellon described Anggun as a "a very good ambassadress for Indonesia and Asia in general". Regarding the role of Asia in Western music industry, Anggun said "I think it's about time people know something more about Asia, not only as a vacation place."