Pink Martini draws inspiration from music from around the world, crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop with an intoxicating sensibility all its own. According to founder Thomas Lauderdale, “if the United Nations had a ‘house band,’ this would be it.”
The group was formed in Portland in 1994 to entertain at a local political rally. Lauderdale then enlisted former Harvard classmate China Forbes to help write for the group and serve as lead vocalist. In 1997 their song “Sympathique” (from the debut album of the same name) became an overnight sensation in France. The song’s refrain (Je ne veux pas travailler or “I don’t want to work”) remains a mantra for striking French workers.
Subsequent recordings include Hang On Little Tomato, Hey Eugene!, Splendor In The Grass and the multi-denominational holiday album Joy to the World. All five albums have gone gold in France, Canada, Greece and Turkey. In 2011 they released 1969, a collaboration with legendary Japanese singer Saori Yuki. The release of the album marked the first time a Japanese artist hit the American Billboard charts since Kyu Sakamoto released “Sukiyaki” in 1963.
The “little orchestra” Pink Martini has performed its multilingual repertoire on countless international stages including Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall and Paris’ legendary L’Olympia. The band has played with more than 50 of the world’s great orchestras, including the LA Philharmonic, Boston Pops, San Francisco Symphony and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
The band has collaborated and performed with artists as varied as Carol Channing, Rufus Wainwright, filmmaker Gus Van Sant, Mamie Van Doren and the original cast of Sesame Street. In January 2012 bandleader Lauderdale recorded the Charlie Chaplin song “Smile” with the 94-year-old legend Phyllis Diller–the song will be released on a future Pink Martini album, tentatively titled Get Happy.