The year was 1969, and the venue was Madrid’s beautiful Teatro Real. A young lady in a beautiful red dress and flowing brown hair took the stage, swiftly charming the audience with her folksy guitar and sweet vocals. That woman was Dutch singer Lenny Kuhr, as she performed her enchanting song “De Troubadour” (which was about a talented medieval musician) at the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest. It might have been inspired by the medieval era, but Lenny’s performance perfectly incorporated decidedly modern, 1960s hippie elements. It was oh-so-Eurovision.
Lenny won over the European crowd, gaining 18 points in the results. However, so did three other countries – the UK, France, and host country Spain. But rather than put the four contestants through a cruel tie-breaker, they were all adorably declared winners – even though there weren’t quite enough medals to go around. Lenny didn’t mind, though – she said winning felt “unreal, like a dream, like I was playing in a movie. Of course, I enjoyed it”. Following her success, she’s been asked to come back several times, but she’s always refused. “Winning gold was a unique feeling”, she says. “For me, that’s enough”.
Fast-forward 50 years, and Lenny is working on a new album to coincide with the half-century anniversary of her win. The album will be entirely crowdfunded, after Lenny succeeded in raising 25,000 Euros to produce her previous album this way. She’s more than 60% of the way there, but with only a few days left to donate, every penny counts. We caught up with Lenny to discuss this exciting project.
What inspired you to write this new album?
I am connected with a source of inspiration that streams all the time, and gives me the opportunity to make new songs. So in the last 50 years I made 31 albums – this will be the 32nd.
Why have you chosen to crowdfund your last album, as well as this one?
In the beginning there were record companies. In 1967 I won a contest in Eindhoven and I got a contract with Phonogram. I made my first single. My first album was in 1969, after Eurovision. There was never a problem making a new album, Phonogram paid for it, and afterwards had their profit. But when I presented the songs for a new album there was always a producer who said “I do not hear the single. Can’t you make a song that will be a hit?” I did not like that. I did not want to feel pressured into making hits and I wanted to be free to express myself in songwriting.
In 1986 I decided to produce my own albums and that turned out to be successful. No big editions, but with what I gained by selling them I could finance a next one. Then the record market changed: hardly any record shops are left, and it became more and more difficult to finance a new album. Albums are mainly sold at concerts.
So then the choice was either not making a new album or find other ways to make it possible. Crowdfunding is such a new way. In the beginning it felt like begging, but it is not. People who participate get something back. That may be the album either as a CD or as an LP (vinyl) — a limited edition — but also a private concert with me is possible.
What have you liked most about making this album?
The compositions are always mine, as well as much of the lyrics. For the new album I also worked with some of my favourite poets.
How do you hope Eurovision fans will respond to your new album?
Like every human being. This will not be a Eurovision album, but an album from a former Eurovision winner who developed since then and still is creating and performing. So I hope they will like it for what it is.
If she’s successful, Lenny will perform in Eindhoven on 29 March 2019, 50 years to the day since her Madrid win. If you’d like to support Lenny’s new album, you can donate here. The campaign ends on 4th December 2018.
Photo: Eddie Mol