born August 14, 1953 in Usingen, Hesse/Germany
German songwriter and singer
70th birthday on August 14, 2023
It all started in 1963 in the small Hessian town of Usingen when Ulla Meinecke got her first guitar at the age of ten; from then on, she frequently practiced playing it while singing. After graduating from high school in 1972 in Frankfurt, where she had moved with her family, she registered for courses in German literature, ethnology and history at the university. The seventies were politically turbulent times, particularly in Frankfurt, and this did not fail to have an effect on Meinecke, who was then soon spending more time with leftist ‘Spontis’ in communal squats than at the university. Occasional odd jobs papering walls or waiting tables provided her with the necessary cash.
Ulla’s life changed in 1976 when she responded to an advertisement she came across in a pop magazine looking for candidates for a girls’ band. She recorded herself singing three songs she had written and composed on a cassette and sent it to the post office box. It was none other than Udo Lindenberg who, having placed the ad anonymously, contacted her shortly thereafter; he was impressed by the “complete, utterly frank honesty” of her lyrics and by her powerful voice with its unmistakable, husky timbre. Ulla then moved to Hamburg, where she recorded her first two albums and worked as a secretary and manager for the man who had discovered her.
In search of more independence, she moved to Berlin in 1979. Her breakthrough did not come until 1983 with new producers - Udo Arndt and Edo Zanki - and her fifth album. In the songs on Wenn nicht schon für immer, dann wenigstens für ewig, including her biggest hit Tänzerin, the storyteller spins tales of love and people in her customary wise, clear-sighted and thoughtful manner. She was awarded the German Cabaret Prize in the Chanson category in 1984.
Success has not clouded the pacifist Meinecke’s critical thinking. She is aware of her “privileged” position as a professional artist; performances at benefit concerts whenever possible are evidence of her continuing commitment to social causes. When the lyrics refuse to come and all creativity is blocked, this passionate pedestrian (who was without a driver's license until she was 47) takes to the streets and wanders around: “That helps to really clear my head.” Schlendern ist Luxus (Strolling is a Luxury) is one of the songs she can also be heard singing on her tours. Dressed nowadays entirely in black and preferably barefoot, she’s more the minimalist than the rocker when she takes the stage. It’s just her voice and a piano.
(Text from 2002. Translated with DeepL.com; edited by Ramona Fararo, 2023).
Please consult the German version for additional information (pictures, sources, videos, bibliography).
Author: Silvie Horch
If you hold the rights to one or more of the images on this page and object to its/their appearance here, please contact Fembio.