Anna Maria Jopek (born on 14 December, 1970, in Warsaw) is a vocalist, pianist, keyboard player, composer, lyricist and producer.
Vocalist, pianist, keyboardist, composer, lyricist, and producer.
Anna Maria Jopek graduated from the piano class of the Frederick Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. She also studied at the faculty of jazz in Manhattan School of Music in New York. She holds scholarships from the Frederick Chopin Association and Columbia University in New York.
She represented Poland in the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin with the song But I Am / Ale jestem, where she took 11th place. Several months later, she recorded her debut album Ale jestem, which gained gold record status in Poland.
In 2002, she recorded the album Upojenie with the world-famous American guitarist Pat Metheny. She collaborated with the most outstanding musicians, including Bobby McFerrin, Ivan Lins, Youssou N’Dour, Makoto Ozone and Richard Bona. Jopek has recorded and performed with the most important figures of the Polish musical scene: Jeremi Przybora, Tomasz Stańko, Marek Grechuta, Janusz Olejniczak, Kayah, Grzegorz Turnau, Staszek Soyka, Perfect, Sweet Noise, Leszek Możdżer and Urszula Dudziak.
She has created her own original sound which flickers with jazz, pop, folk music and poetry, all joined together with her musicality and timbre of her voice. Of her own music, AMJ asks:
(...) please do not file my music under jazz. Nor under pop, folk…. I embrace a lot of influences. Jazz is by far the most important in its freedom, its harmony and its sense of time, but I was brought up with the old Polish folk songs. So I’m kind of rooted in all these Slavic sounds.
She performed at The Warsaw Autumn Festival as well as with the Skaldowie band at Carnegie Hall. She has performed throughout the world, from the USA and Canada through to all of Europe and even Japan in venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, Blue Note Tokyo, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv. She has worked at the famous Abbey Road studio and at Peter Gabriel's Real World.
She is a laureate of many competitions and awards: at the festival in Witebsk she was awarded the private prize of Michel Legrand, in 1998 she received the Fryderyk / Frederick Prize (the Polish Grammy) for the Phonographic Debut of the year for Ale jestem. In 2003, she received the prestigious Polityka's Passport award, a Victor award, a Prometeusz Polish Stage Award and an Ace from Empik. In 2003, she was awarded two Fryderyk awards (Singer of the Year, Best Production of the Year), in 2004 she received the 2003 Victor in the category of Singer, and in 2006 she was honored by the readers' poll of Polish Jazz Forum Magazine as the best vocalist of 2005.
On 14th December 2008, the day of her 28th birthday, Jopek released a triple box set titled Dwa Serduszka Cztery Oczy (Two Hearts Four Eyes), which was intended as a symbolic farewell to the ID project and an announcement of an extended break from new musical productions. The set included three albums: ID, Jo&Co and Spoza (comprising 14 b-sides), as well as almost 90 photographs and a specially-prepared booklet.
Jopek relaunched her career in 2011 by releasing three albums simultaneously: Haiku (a collaboration with Makoto Ozone), Sobremesa, and Polanna. The first two were inspired by music from foreign cultures and produced together with artists from those regions: Haiku focused on Japan, while Sobremesa invited musicians from Portugal, Africa, and Brazil. For Polanna, Anna Maria Jopek drew inspiration from traditional Polish music – the album featured such artists as the Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, the multi-instrumentalist Maria Pomianowska and the cellist Rafał Kwiatkowski, with a guest appearance by Stanisław Soyka.
The next cultural stop for Jopek was Scotland – she was invited by the Song of the Goat Theatre to take part in their project Return to the Voice. The performance, created by Grzegorz Bral (director), Maciej Rychły and Jean Claude Acquaviva (who composed the music), was based on Gaelic and Scottish laments, psalms and other songs. Return to the Voice premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014.
For almost a decade, she has been at the forefront of the BMW JazzClub project, which made way for her collaborations with many acclaimed musicians like Brandford Marsalis, Richard Bona, Makoto Ozon, Tomasz Stańko, to name a few.
In 2017 she released the album Minione which brings back to life the most charming pre-war Polish tangos. Recorded with one of the greatest improvising pianist of our times, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and his jazz trio it includes the songs that inspired them most, such as Rebeca or Your lips lie. Those pieces are a bridge between the past and present vocal music. They also merge various cultures: Polish, Cuban, Jewish, Argentinian and American.
That same year, Jopek released an album with the music co-written with Robert Kubiszyn for the play Czas Kobiety (Woman's Time) directed by Leszek Mądzik, in which she also performed.
In her private life, she is the wife of the music journalist Marcin Kydryński and daughter of Stanisław Jopek, a tenor in the Mazowsze Song and Dance Ensemble.
- Ale jestem (Mercury/PolyGram 1997)
Anna's debut album which reveals her talent for creatively approaching folk music. It contains songs written for Anna by her friends. Carefully crafted music – probably the closest Anna ever got to the pop idiom.
- Szeptem (Mercury/PolyGram 1998)
Actually recorded as her first solo effort, this intimate set of ballads pays tribute to some of the most beautiful songs ever written in Poland. Rearranged for a small ensemble, and sometimes even a piano-vocal duet, by Anna and her band, this record is considered to be Anna's most pure, gentle and classic. The second record of the set contains excerpts from Anna's Special Event concert at the Warsaw Philharmonic with some of the most important figures in the history of Polish jazz.
- Jasnosłyszenie (Universal Music 1999)
The 'quick one' with some rough edges. A set of pop-folk songs rooted in different traditions: Slavic, Saharan, Armenian, Jamaican – never a cliché, always a quest for an original, different approach.
- Dzisiaj z Betleyem (Universal Music 1999)
An album of traditional Polish Christmas carols. Anna paired up with the arranging wizard Paweł Betley. Actually a duet, although one hears the orchestras, boy choirs, folk ensembles... A pure masterpiece of overdubbing, and a unique record.
- Bosa (Universal Music 2000)
An extremely original and brave look at the traditional Slavonic melody, jazz-rooted harmonies, and a phenomenal work by some of the most outstanding improvising musicians in the country.
- Barefoot (Emarcy / Universal Music 2002)
Barefoot is actually a new version of the acclaimed Bosa. Still, while it bears the same album cover and general idea, it actually contains around 30 minutes of new music. Passionate, wild, and sometimes weird, but always honest and hauntingly beautiful, it was Anna's debut EmArcy release in Europe.
- Nienasycenie (Universal Music 2002)
Original yet catchy songs, dense harmonies, odd meters, jazz solos and loops... Probably the only studio album that shows all sides of Anna's music in one go, creating a coherent, independent, instantly recognizable voice in Polish songwriting.
- Upojenie (Warner Music 2002)
'Anna Maria Jopek and Friends with Pat Metheny' was an unprecedented effort. One of the most important and at the same time most beloved artists of modern music agreed to do a whole album with an unknown singer and her friends. The fourteen fabulous tracks became an instant classic, selling more than 100,000 copies. This tribute to the master composer, improviser, and 20-time Grammy Award winner included some of the most beautiful songs Anna and her producer/music partner/husband Marcin Kydryński have ever written. It also contains, as critics and fans alike say: 'some of the finest playing by a contemporary guitar genius'.
- Upojenie (Nonesuch Records 2008)
Upojenie was released in October 2008 by Nonesuch as Pat Metheny's album. It is extraordinary distinction. Up to then, only Charlie Haden, Jim Hall and Brad Mehldau had had the opportunity to be present on Pat Metheny's album covers, linked with the '&' symbol. The international edition of Upojenie includes lyrics translated into English by Marcin Kydryński and Pat Metheny, short texts by Pat, AMJ and Marcin, and what is most important – three previously unreleased songs (two of them from a memorable concert in Congress Hall). The order of songs is also different, a change proposed five years ago by notable producer Matt Pierson.
- Niebo (Universal Music 2005), reedition with DVD (Universal Music 2006)
A long-expected studio album which came after three years. On Niebo / Heaven, the best Polish jazz-rooted musicians appeared. Anna also invited Mino Cinelu, a well-known percussionists, who played with Pat Metheny, Miles Davis and Sting.
- Farat (Universal Music 2007)
A live album, full of untamed energy, joy and collective improvisation. From soft love songs in a traditional, almost radio-like format, through upbeat, wild entertainment to free-oriented, genuine jazz extravaganzas. In these times of DJs and electronics Anna and her band make a statement. Real music played live, taking chances, risking and winning... this is what matters to them. A true gem. The DVD comes with 10 additional tracks, with some alternative versions, and also contains almost two hours of bonus documentary material.
- ID (Anna Maria Jopek Music / EmArcy 2008)
Anna Maria Jopek (vocals & piano), Mino Cinelu, Manu Katche (percussion), Christian McBride, Richard Bona (bass), Tord Gustavsen (piano), Oscar Castro-Neves (guitar), Branford Marsalis (saxophones), Dhafer Youssef (vocals, oud), Arve Henriksen (vocals, trumpet), Leszek Możdżer (piano), Marek Napiórkowski (guitar), Krzysztof Herdzin, Paweł Zarecki (keyboards).
- JO & CO (Universal Music 2008) - concert album
- Dwa serduszka, cztery oczy (AMJ MUSIC 2008) - special edition box set
- Haiku (Universal Music Polska 2011)
- Sobremesa (Universal Music Polska 2011)
- Polanna (Universal Music Polska 2011)
- Lustra (2011) - a single publication compiling three albums Polanna, Haiku and Sobremesa accompanied by the artist's comments and the photo story in a hundred frames presenting the last three years, from the times of the ID and the premiere of a book/album Dwa serduszka.
- Minione (Anna Maria Jopek & Gonzalo Rubalcaba 2017) "Minione" is arranged and produced by Gonzalo Rubalcaba. The highest audiophile sound quality of the recording is the merit of the Grammy Awards winner Carlos Alvarez, made in The Hit Factory Criteria Miam, legendary studio in Florida.
- Czas Kobiety ( AMJ MUSIC 2017)
Author: Marek Romański, December 2008. Updated by AM, October 2014, updated November 2017