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“Did you know that ace Indian badminton player Prakash Padukone’s daughter Deepika was born in Copenhagen? Did you know that the last badminton world title that Saina Nehwal bagged was in Denmark in 2012?”
The trivia set the tone at the residence of Danish Ambassador Freddy Svane last week, where the announcement for the Badminton World Championship in Copenhagen (August 25-31) was made.
But what pleased the select gathering was a performance by Danish Punjabi singer Anita Lerche. Dressed in a bright yellow anarkali dress, accompanied by a group of bhangra dancers, she got everyone clapping and swaying as soon as she started singing “Aao ji, ji aaiyaan nu (welcome)”. Surprisingly, the 40-year-old’s diction is quite clear and she sings in Punjabi without an accent.
And there was more in store. She followed the peppy Aao ji song with the soul-stirring Heer, a folk song by the 18th century Punjabi Sufi poet Waris Shah.
Denmark-born Lerche has studied in London and is an established singer-songwriter and actor there. “I had no India connection till about 2005, when, during a trekking trip to Himachal, I was attracted to the Kullu dialect and started humming the local songs I picked up,” said Lerche.
She was then advised to try Punjabi music, and she travelled to Hoshiarpur to learn it. The very next year — in 2006 — she came out with Heer from Denmark, becoming the first non-Asian woman to create a solo album in Punjabi. This year, she will release her next Punjabi album, titled Sadke Punjab Ton.