The Late Movies: Happy Birthday!


Today I'm celebrating my 25th birthday. Although a Neil Diamond concert sent my mom into labor with me, I don't possess much musical talent. The same cannot be said of many who share my birthday—from Barry White to Emmy Rossum, they're a musically talented bunch. The following are just a few of the musicians who are celebrating their birthday today.

Amanda Jenssen

Swede Amanda Jenssen may only be 22, but she's a vocal powerhouse.

She was a runner-up on Sweden's Idol 2007, and her 2008 debut album reached number 1 on the Swedish charts, becoming one of the most sold albums that year. In 2009, her single "Happyland," above, debuted at number 3 on the Swedish Singles chart, and its album by the same name was certified gold after just one week of sales. Jenssen won two Grammis (the Swedish equivalent of the Grammy) for the album, for best female artist and best composer (with Pär Wiksten).

Emmy Rossum

She may be more well-known for her acting, but 25-year-old Emmy Rossum is just as talented a singer (and she was actually singing long before she was acting).

Rossum joined the Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus at age 7 after she sang "Happy Birthday" in all 12 keys for the chorus director. Most people didn't hear her singing, though, until she starred in the Phantom of the Opera movie, after which she received several offers to record classical albums. She chose instead to record a contemporary album, Inside Out; "Slow Me Down" (above) was the only single off that album.

Jonatan Cerrada

Belgian pop star Jonatan Cerrada, the first winner of French Pop Idol, turns 26 today.

Cerrada won the first season of À la Recherche de la Nouvelle Star (Looking for the New Star; later just Nouvelle Star) in 2002, when he was not quite 16. He released his debut album, Siempre 23, shortly thereafter. His "Mon Paradis" was the soundtrack to the French version of the movie Robots shortly before his second album, La Preuve du contraire, was released. "Libre comme l'air" (above) was a Belgium-only single off that album. After a guest role on the Spanish comedy/drama Un Paso Adelante and "Ruban Noir," a partly-in-Spanish song that was a download hit, he's become more popular with Spanish-speakers and is working on a third album (without a major label) all in Spanish.

September (Petra Marklund)

27-year-old Swedish singer Petra Marklund is better known as just "September."

September started recording at the age of 12 and signed a record deal at 17. "Looking for Love" (above) was her second single off her second album, In Orbit. The single peaked at #17 on the Swedish charts. She wasn't introduced to the U.S. and the rest of Europe until her fifth single off In Orbit, but she was still just 19. Since then, she's released two more albums, competed in the Sopot International Song Festival in Poland, starred on the reality show Så mycket bättre, and nominated for a Grammis, an MTV Europe Music Award, an NRJ Music Award, and as Biggest Music Export from Sweden (2008).

Idan Raichel

The 34-year-old Israeli has enjoyed great success as a singer-songwriter-musician after a stint in the Israeli army and a job as a counselor to troubled youths and immigrants, mostly Ethiopian Jews.

Raichel is best known for The Idan Raichel Project, for which he teamed up with 70 different musicians of varied nationalities and skills; the project was considered to be too "ethnic" to be taken on by most of the Israeli labels, but was signed by Helicon Records and became an immediate hit. Above is The Idan Raichel Project's "Other People's Dreams." For live performances, Raichel selected just 7 of his musician partners to perform with him and be representative of the project as a whole. He has since released two more studio albums and a "greatest hits" album.

Ben Folds

Ben Folds, 45 today and father to twins, wrote "Still Fighting It," below, for his son Louis on the album Rockin' the Suburbs; Louis' sister Gracie got a track in her name on the later album Songs for Silverman.

Folds may be best-known for Ben Folds Five, for which he was frontman and pianist, or for doing the Over the Hedge soundtrack, or for his Chatroulette-based "Ode to Merton" video that became a YouTube sensation. Since embarking on a solo career upon the breakup of Ben Folds Five, Folds has frequently collaborated with other musicians, including Weird Al Yankovic, Regina Spektor, and William Shatner. Many of his songs and videos are humorous to some degree; they're also frequently peppered with curse words.

Dino Merlin

Bosnian singer/songwriter/musican Edin Dervišhalidovi?, known simply as "Dino Merlin," turned 49 today.

Merlin has been the lead singer and songwriter of the band Merlin since he formed it in 1983; he began his solo career eight years later. He's released 5 studio albums with the band and another 5 as a solo artist. The first national anthem of Bosnia and Herzegovina, "Jedna si, jedina," was written by Merlin, who competed three times in the Eurovision Song Contests, once in 1993, again in 1999, and most recently this year, when he came in sixth. "Undo" (above) is his most recent single.

Mylène Farmer

49-year-old French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer began her climb towards fame as a model.

Farmer released her first single at age 23; she's had 51 more singles since then, with 12 of them reaching #1 on the French charts. Her 20th single, "XXL" (above), debuted at #1 and had easier to understand lyrics than her previous singles. She's released 8 albums over the years and has also written 2 books, starred as Catherine Degrâce in the 1994 film Giorgino, and voiced Princess Selenia in the French version of Arthur and the Invisibles and its two sequels.

Barry White

Today would have been Barry White's 67th birthday.

White began in the music business in his 20s as a songwriter; it wasn't until the '70s that he began his solo singing career. Since 1973, he's had 6 studio albums go gold and 3 to go platinum (one of which is two times platinum), as well as 3 compilation albums that went platinum (one of which is two times platinum), but he only had one single ("Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe") that reached #1 on the U.S. singles chart. (6 reached #1 on the U.S. R&B chart.) He also worked as a producer and a voice actor.