Adolescence, for most, is defined by gawky figures, awkward speech impeded by braces, and simple-minded thinking that in today’s day and age, focuses itself on television sitcoms, the next fad, and internet memes or video games. Breaking this mold, however, is singer-songwriter-piano player Jasmine van den Bogaerde, otherwise known as Birdy. She captivated the British world initially with her shimmering rendition of a popular song, “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, which hit the top of UK’s music charts in 2011. What followed was a flowering of her success through her maturity, precociousness, and lyrical brilliance. Her eponymous album, released in November 2011, features covered songs from the XX, Fleet Foxes, Phoenix, and Mumford & Sons, with whom she played a duet entitled “Learn Me Right” for Disney Pixar’s Brave. Songs that she writes contain subject matter that ranges from her lost relationships to atypical musings about the world around her.
The echoes and reverberations from her mystic voice, delicate, extraordinarily skilled playing of her piano, in conjunction with her humble demeanor and prodigal youth, are the reasons her concerts sell out within hours of going on sale. It is no wonder, as the melodic rifts in her music seem only to belong in the realm of enchantment, and when one allows, it can simply take you into that realm, if only for the few minutes the song lasts. Some, such as her Farewell and Goodnight, originally sung with deep melancholy by the Smashing Pumpkins, verge on the sweetness of a lullaby when sung by her, while still retaining its maturity. This is the captivating gift she so deftly holds: that of making a song so uniquely her own and rendering it almost completely different whilst staying true to the song’s essence.
Jasmine grew up in love with musical beauty, as many rising singers are, and her voice propelled her further into the pursuit of a musical career. Her passion for music may be attributed to her mother, who is herself a concert pianist, and thus, with the spark ignited, Jasmine had learned to play the piano at the tender age of seven. Her family’s supportive and creative environment served to provide her with enough enchantment and inspiration to continue elevating. This atmosphere is summed up most aptly in her own website: “Birdy comes from a talented, creative family (her great-uncle was the actor and writer Sir Dirk Bogarde, although Birdy is too young to have ever met him). They live in a crumbling converted mill in the New Forest, not far from the sea. There’s a grand piano in the living room because her mum is a classically trained concert pianist. In a shed outside, there’s the tiny studio where Birdy recorded some of her first demos, and where her dad works, recording voiceovers and reading the day’s news stories for the blind. With her younger brother and sister, a whole pack of cousins living close by as well as her friends, Birdy has had a childhood straight out of an Enid Blyton book: roaming through the woods, and playing on the local beaches.”
The advocacy of fans from around the world has shot her to skyrocketing success. Her worldwide tour has stops from her native country in the UK to the mecca of all world-shattering talent: New York City, NY. She has appeared on The Guardian, Britain’s most acclaimed and widely-recognized newspaper, as well as state side’s Ellen DeGeneres show. Her eponymous album was released in November of 2011, and reached the top twenty charts.
However, do not let this typical story of instant success sway you; what is especially incredible is the amount of modesty and humility that radiates from her demeanor whenever presented with thousands of fans and heavyweights in the entertainment industry. With her youth and intelligence, it shall be curious to see how newfound success and fame will prompt her to become an even more brilliant role model to younger teens. I am personally looking forward to seeing her in concert, and not repeating the incident as I recently went to purchase a ticket to see her in the Bowery in New York City, and realizing that it was completely sold out to an audience of awe-struck fans.
If you happen to enjoy Birdy’s lyricisms and youthful vigor, I highly recommend checking out a similar band that is equally taking the musical world by storm with gypsy charms and artistic reveries, surpassing the barriers of stereotypical youth: First Aid Kit.