Anna Maria Jopek (born on 14 December, 1970, in Warsaw) is a vocalist, pianist, keyboard player, 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.
Author: Marek Romański, December 2008. Updated by AM, October 2014, updated November 2017
Anna Maria Jopek
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