Pink Martini

Thomas Lauderdale, a native of Portland, Oregon, was working in politics in 1994, with the hope that he would one day run for mayor. Like other eager politicians-in-training, he went to every political fundraiser under the sun… but was dismayed to find the music at these events underwhelming, lackluster, loud and un-neighborly. He drew inspiration from music all around the globe – spanning genres of jazz, classical, and old-fashioned pop. In 1994, Pink Martini, an “little orchestra”, was founded to provide beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks to political fundraisers. Its mission is to support causes such as civil rights and affordable housing, environmental protection, education, parks, libraries, public radio, public broadcasting and education. Lauderdale called China Forbes, a Harvard classmate, one year later and asked her to join Pink Martini. They started writing songs together. The first song, “Sympathique”, became an overnight hit in France and was nominated at France’s Victoires de la Music Awards for “Song Of the Year”. It is still a popular slogan (“Je ne voul pas travailler”) for striking French workers. Lauderdale says, “We are very American, but we spend a lot time abroad and therefore have an incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent America… The America which remains the most heterogeneously-populated country in the world… Composed of people from every country, every religion, every language and every culture,” Pink Martini is a multilingual band that performs on concert stages as well as with symphony orchestras across Europe, Asia, Greece and Turkey. Pink Martini’s European debut was at the Cannes Film Festival 1997. It also made its orchestral debut with Oregon Symphony 1998, under Norman Leyden. The band has played with over 50 orchestras worldwide, including numerous engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Pops and the National Symphony of the Kennedy Center. They also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall. The grand opening of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles by the Philharmonic was sold out. There were also sold-out performances for New Years Eve 2003, 2004 and 2008, as well as four concerts at Carnegie Hall. Pink Martini’s 1997 debut album Sympathique, which was released on their own label Heinz Records (named for Lauderdale’s dog), quickly became an international sensation and received nominations in France’s Victoires du Musique Awards 2000. Pink Martini released Hang On Little Tomato! in 2004. Hey Eugene! In 2007, and Splendor in the Grass 2009! Joy To The World, a holiday album that features songs from all over the world, was released in November 2010. Joy To The World received rave reviews and was sold in Starbucks during the holiday season 2010. The albums went gold in France and Canada as well as Greece, Turkey, and Turkey. The band released two albums in Fall 2011. A Retrospective was a collection of their most loved songs over 18 years. 1969 was an album that featured collaborations with the legendary Japanese singer Saori Yoki. 1969 was certified platinum in Japan and reached #2 on the Japanese charts. The Japan Times raved that the album “A Retrospective” showcased the band’s most beloved songs. 1969 also marked the first American Billboard chart entry by a Japanese artist since Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 release “Sukiyaki”. Pink Martini albums have been sold more than 3 million times worldwide. The band has performed and collaborated with many artists including Jimmy Scott and Carol Channing, Jane Powell and Rufus Wainwright. Martha Wainwright and Henri Salvador were among them. When China Forbes had to have surgery on her vocal chords, Storm Large started performing with Pink Martini. Forbes recovered fully and Large continues to perform with Pink Martini. Pink Martini has an illustrious roster of regular guest artists: NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro, Cantor Ida Rae Cahana (who was cantor at the Central Synagogue in NYC for five years), koto player Masumi Timson, harpist Maureen Love, and Kim Hastreiter (the publisher/editor-in-chief of Paper magazine). Thomas Lauderdale, the bandleader of Pink Martini, began recording the Charlie Chaplin song “Smile” in January 2012. He also recorded it with the legendary Phyllis Diller. The album, entitled Get Happy, features 16 songs from nine different countries. It was released September 24, 2013. China Forbes, the band’s beloved singer, is the main vocalist. Storm Large, her new co-lead sing, records with Pink Martini.

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