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Valerie

Austrian vocalist Valerie emerged as a solo artist in 2007, scoring a couple big hits with "Mädchen" and "Regen," yet her recording career dates back roughly ten years prior, including stints in the short-lived girl group C-Bra and the award-winning downtempo group Saint Privat. Born Valérie Sajdik on April 2, 1978, in Vienna, Austria, she spent her childhood in Moscow, where her father was a diplomat and her mother a journalist. A multilingual speaker of German, French, Russian, and English, she attended a French school in Moscow until age 13 when her family returned to Vienna following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. She later studied abroad in America.

In 1998 Valerie was selected to be cast in the girl group C-Bra, with which she scored a few hit singles ("Make Up Your Mind!," "Love You Today," "Papa Chico") and released a full-length album, Mind Your Make Up! (1999). The group separated after releasing its one album, and Valerie focused on the completion of her studies, graduating with a law degree in 2000. In subsequent years, she worked as a jazz singer in the south of France, an experience that inspired her to name her next project Saint Privat. Named after a village near Montpellier in which she lived for a while, the project was a collaboration chiefly with producer Klaus Waldeck; other members of the group include guitarist Clemens Wabra, bassist Ruediger Kostron, and drummer Erwin Schober.

Similar in style to better-known European downtempo acts such as Röyksopp, Zero 7, <<rinôçérôse>>, and Portishead, Saint Privat incorporated a mélange of retro styles such as bossa nova and cool jazz into laid-back electronic lounge music. The Valerie-fronted group debuted in 2004 with the album Riviera and the single "Tous les Jours"; both were Top 40 hits in Austria. In 2005, in the wake of these initial releases, Saint Privat were awarded an Amadeus Award in the category of Newcomer des Jahres National (i.e., Austrian Newcomer of the Year). In 2006 Saint Privat released their second album, Superflu, and an accompanying single, "Somebody to Love"; less successful than the group's first go-round, the album peaked at number 40 on the Austrian albums chart and the single didn't chart at all.

Following the relative disappointment of Superflu, Valerie split from Saint Privat and embarked on a solo career as a jazzy pop/rock singer in partnership with the Ariola division of Sony BMG. Her first solo release was the lead single "Mädchen," a number 11 hit in Austria, followed shortly thereafter by the album Picknick (2007). The follow-up single, "Noch Einmal," proved much less popular, charting for only one week and peaking at only number 73. The third single, the ballad "Regen," caught on, however, breaking into the Top Ten and driving Picknick back up onto the albums charts, where it approached its previous peak position of number 24. The revived interest in Picknick, thanks to the heavy airplay of "Regen," motivated Ariola to reissue the album in 2008 in a new edition boasting new cover art, bonus tracks, and multimedia content. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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