Jasmine van den Bogaerde's mother was a concert pianist while her great uncle was the late, great British actor Dirk Bogarde. Birdy (named as such by her parents because while being fed as a baby she would open her mouth wide like a baby bird) was inspired by her mother and learnt to play the piano as a child and began writing songs soon after. At the age of twelve she took part in the UK-wide Open Mic music competition and out of ten thousand contestants she was crowned the winner of the under-eighteens and was rewarded with a recording contract. The following year she demonstrated her keyboard skills when she took part in BBC Radio 3's Pianothon and later performed in Brighton pubs with her elder brother Moses. In 2011 the fourteen year old singer/songwriter released her debut single, a cover of Bon Iver's 'Skinny Love' which peaked at No 17 in the UK charts and became a big hit across continental Europe, even hitting the top spot in the Netherlands. Although the song was not a hit in the USA it was featured in a number of popular TV shows including Being Human and The Vampire Diaries. Her second and third singles, cover versions of The xx's 'Shelter' and Cherry Ghost's 'People Help The People' were less successful, reaching No 50 and No 33 in the UK respectively.
Birdy's self-titled debut album was released on Atlantic Records in November 2011 and topped the charts in several countries including Australia, the Netherlands and Belgium while back in the UK it peaked at No 13. Despite being a writer herself the record only featured one of her own compositions with the rest being covers of songs by other bands or artists including James Taylor, Phoenix, Fleet Foxes, The Postal Service, Francis And The Lights, The Naked And The Famous, The National plus the previously released singles. The album was produced by several established producers who with a couple of notable exceptions are best known for their alternative rock credentials; Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Adele), Rich Costey (Muse, Jane's Addiction, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand) and James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Klaxons, Florence And The Machine, Mystery Jets). 2012 was spent mainly promoting the album through appearances around the World including a performance at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in London.
Birdy began work on her second album with the returning producers Jim Abbiss and Rich Costey but this time she wrote two songs entirely by herself and the remaining nine she co-wrote with a number of writers including Dan Wilson (of Semisonic), Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic), Kid Harpoon, Sia Furler, Fraser T. Smith and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. The album was preceded by the single 'Wings' which debuted at No 16 in the UK charts in September 2013 and went on to become another huge hit across Europe. The album Fire Within was issued in September 2013 and peaked at No 8 in the UK and No 24 in the USA and although it yielded three more digital download only singles ('No Angel', 'Light Me Up' and 'Words As Weapons') they all failed to chart in the UK and only became minor hits on the Continent. In the United States the album had been promoted through the release of the US-only five track EP Breathe that featured songs from her debut plus live versions of 'Skinny Love' (recorded at the Sydney Opera House) and 'Wings' (recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios.) Outside of her own albums she has contributed songs to the movie soundtracks
The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond ('Just A Game'), Brave ('Learn Me Right' performed by Birdy and Mumford & Sons) and The Fault In Our Stars ('Not About Angels', 'Tee Shirt' and 'Best Shot', the latter featuring singer/songwriter Jaymes Young).
While her voice retained her individual breathy quality over her first two albums, in many ways the self-titled debut sounds lyrically more mature as she chose to interpret songs written by more experienced and older artists. The second album Fire Within was essentially her songwriting debut and inevitably for a musician still in her mid-teens her lyrics reflect her limited life experiences and interests which in Birdy's case (as with almost all artists of her age) tend to be of love and loss. Her achievements so far are extremely impressive, her debut sold in excess of one and a half million copies and she has made a significant impact on charts around the World including (for British artists) the notoriously difficult to crack American market. If Birdy's writing continues to evolve and become more sophisticated then she has the undoubted musical talent and a distinctive enough voice to develop into one of Britain's more interesting and unique artists.
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