Caro Emerald is a Dutch pop star who's a #1 hit sensation in the Netherlands and across Europe. She's like Amy Winehouse minus the heroin, crossed with Adele minus the moping. Even though she's been around since 2009, I didn't find out about her until 2013 when she appeared on Later with Jools Holland. I must say, much to my shame, I thought my fat hottie radar was more reliable than that.
Caro's road to success is an inspiring Cinderella story. Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw was a classically trained singer who worked as a vocal coach and sang in some girl groups around Amsterdam. She was an unknown brought in to record a demo for a retro big-band single called "Back It Up" that the producers intended to sell to an established artist. Then they realized that Caroline's own rendition was perfect for the song and she had star potential. She adopted the stage name of Caro Emerald, became a founding partner in the Grandmono Records indie record label, and ended up conquering the European music industry. Her 2010 debut album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor broke the record held by Michael Jackson's Thriller by spending 27 weeks at #1 in the Dutch charts. The 2013 follow-up The Shocking Miss Emerald continued her string of success across Europe.
If there were any measure of justice and sanity in the world, the next step would be for Caro Emerald will take America. Her singles like "Back It Up" and "A Night Like This" sound ready-made for U.S. audiences. So why does she remain unknown here? I think it's a combination of reasons. There's the autonomy of little Grandmono Records, who may be refusing to relinquish control to the cutthroat American music industry. And even though she sings only in English, her Dutch nationality is a weirdness factor for U.S. audiences to overcome. We seem to only allow foreign celebrities who are British or Australian, for the most part.
And then there's the issue of her weight. Even though Adele has paved the way for big girls to be big stars here, there's no question that the U.S. pop music market remains averse to chanteuses of size.
"I was very aware of how I might be perceived to be by the media when I started out," Caro said in an interview. "I didn't want to be seen as the 'fat girl' and so I avoided any questions about weight to start with. I knew there was a time when people wanted their singers to be so thin, but I felt that it wasn't all about that. Now I think things are changing and people want more from their female singers. They want people with substance and something to say."
Indeed, some of us absolutely do. I am utterly enchanted by Caro Emerald. More than just her gorgeous looks, I love her voice, her style, her lively fusion of jazz and modern pop, her vivacious attitude and her unlikely origins as an accidental superstar. I honestly haven't felt so captivated by a female celebrity since my former obsession with Anna Nicole Smith+.
I'm making it my duty to lead the vanguard of stateside Caro Emerald fandom by getting the word out. And YouTube links are the most convincing testimony. As pretty as Caro is, I find she's one of those women who looks her best in motion rather than in stills, and you can't hear a picture sing. So check her out, behold her hypnotic splendor, and you can thank me later.
Caro Emerald Albums
Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor (2010)|
Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor: The Remixes (2012)|
Live at Le Poisson Rouge (EP, 2013)|
The Shocking Miss Emerald (2013)|
The Shocking Miss Emerald: Deluxe Edition (2013)|
The Shocking Miss Emerald: Acoustic Sessions (EP, 2013)|
Caro Emerald on DVD/Blu-ray
Caro Emerald Live with the Grandmono Orchestra (2011)|
Caro Emerald In Concert (2013)|
Caro Emerald Gallery