Eirik Bodding Gjendemsjø –Norwegian Vocalist

13 September 2014

Eirik Bodding Gjendemsjø (aka Eirik Gjen)

It has been a distinct pleasure for me to get to know the music of Eirik Gjen over the last few years.  I am not usually taken with a ‘listen-and-review’ of a single play of a music video, but I certainly was in the case of Eirik.  When I first created a small YouTube channel for general music promotion, I listened for quite a time to classical-crossover vocalists and one of my favorite musical genres:  Classical choral music.  Although I do not know precisely how YouTube provided Webber’s “Pie Jesu” by Eirik Gjen, in the ‘try this’ column on my channel, that is how I accidentally discovered his work.

I will provide a link, later on, for the single piece that convinced me that this young Norwegian vocalist had exceptional skills.  The video that shows his “Pie Jesu” entry into the competition Norway’s Got Talent, absolutely stunned me.  Here is this kid, in braces and tousled hair, that belts out a rendition that would have brought Webber to tears. Now years later, I still occasionally listen again to the music video and marvel at his work as a teenager. It took me a while to discover that Eirik had indeed spent some time as a chorister, but I knew he must have had a rich history in choral work. This particular version alone has received more than 29,000 views.

I suppose like many teen YouTubers, Eirik recorded covers–alone or with an accompanist or collaborators–in some unusual venues:  school spaces, his bedroom, a sofa in a family room, etc.  Eirik has produced some of the best pop-cover work available anywhere.  Selections that come easily to mind include the premier cover of the Bruno Mars hit, “When I Was Your Man.” — Maroon 5 “Payphone” — and Queen “The Show Must Go On.”  I would like to think that I had a small part in promoting “When I Was Your Man” to the 5,000; then 10,000; and then 20,000+ YouTube plays.  I probably wore out my welcome on Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Facebook in the process, but I felt then and sill do that Eirik’s work needs to be heard by music enthusiasts around the world.

Eirik’s official video “The Greatest” has rightly generated nearly 186,000 YouTube views.  It is among his finest works.  I never knew exactly what happened to one or two other official releases that were quite good, but believe there must have been copyright or management issues that eventually prompted their removal from public access.  Be that as it may, they too were exceptionally well done.  I will gladly provide a link to “The Greatest” as one of his premier pieces.

As with many artists, Eirik has other skills.  His ‘amateur’ photography is well done.  He routinely posts family and friend photos–including his Springer “Kira”–on Instagram.  For several years, Eirik routinely posted on Twitter and Facebook, but his media presence has diminished greatly.

Before I forget, I need to mention that this remarkable young man had performed for First Lady Michelle Obama during her state visit to Norway, before he was 15 years old.

I remain flattered whenever I receive the occasional message from Eirik Gjen and continue to encourage him to create more great vocal music.  Eirik has recently entered university at Romerike Folkehøgskole.  I wish every success at the start of his academic experience.

— R. Johnson

— p.s. The braces with which Eirik suffered as a young teen worked quite well.  He has one of the best smiles in the business.


Improvisational Piano — Chooka Parker

September 8, 2014

It really isn’t often that musicians are self-taught; and that improvisation becomes the dominant ‘production’ from an instrument. The exception is Australian pianist, Chooka Parker.

Much as many of the artists that I have followed and promoted as a hobbyist over the years, I found Chooka quite by accident.  While listening to traditional classical piano and related YouTube music videos, there was a ‘suggested’ listing–located in the right column of my screen–that pointed me to Chooka’s work.  After a very small handful of selections, I was hooked on his music.

I made it a point to spend some time listening to his video appearances on Australia’s Got Talent, his Sydney Opera House premier and later, his accompaniment work for a favorite classical-crossover vocalist, Miss Elena House.

His variations on Fur Elise quickly convinced me that this young man had a huge repository of music in his head, and that it was only a matter of time before he would release his music, in several genres, to the world.  I am glad that he did.

I am always flattered when I receive a note from Chooka.  I remain honored that Chooka has taken the time and effort to correspond occasionally with me.  Obviously, I value his friendship highly.

For an admittedly quick sample of Chooka’s work, try YouTube link:

Following that sample, I would encourage readers to spend some time listening to his selections.  His EPs are great and available on his website and usual outlets. Chooka has recently branched out into another percussion instrument and is now ‘tearing into’ a trap set.  

I have no hesitation in recommending his work.  Happy listening!


— R. Johnson

Anastasia “Anya” Lee — Classical-Crossover Vocalist

Anastasia “Anya” Lee is a gracious friend and classical-crossover vocalist, that I first discovered on YouTube.  I was immediately taken with her remarkable voice.  The timbre of her voice belies her youth.  As with many of the extremely-skilled artists I have gotten to know over the years, I have made every effort to provide comments on her YouTube channel, along with shares to other social media, predominantly Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Anya is also an athlete as well as a vocalist.  She and her family are energetic members of their Chicago-area community, to say the least.

During the summer of 2013, Anya and her family traveled to Romania, where she won an international competition as a vocalist.  Although I cannot now recall the exact travel schedule, she returns to Romania in 2014 as a featured performer and event judge.

This plucky young woman attended a Josh Groban concert near her home about three years ago.  Groban was accepting questions from the audience, on hand-written 3 X 5 cards.  One of the cards was from Anya, who asked Groban if she could perform a duet with him.  To the shock of Groban, the audience–and likely most of all to Anya–the two did a superb impromptu duet. That ‘commemorative’ YouTube video has received nearly 1.2 million views.

Rather than spending a great deal of time writing about her skills–I could easily spend days writing–it is much simpler for me to provide the link to her channel  It is:  https://www.youtube.com/user/TheAnastasiaLee

In addition to her ‘expected’ repertoire as a classical-crossover artist, Anya often branches out into everything from movie themes, country-hit covers, to The King of Rock & Roll – Elvis.

Enjoy your exploration of The Anastasia Lee’s music channel  You will not be disappointed.


–R. Johnson


Miss Elena Ling House — Classical-Crossover Vocalist

I have had the genuine honor to follow the work of Miss Elena Ling House, a spectacular classical-crossover vocalist (and more) for about the last two or so years.

I first discovered her work on YouTube and wrote comments and gladly re-posted her brilliant work.  She was gracious enough to provide me very kind replies in social media.  I have continued re-posting essentially everything she has produced ever since.

I listed “and more’ in the opening line above for good cause.  In addition to a world-class voice, Elena is–in her spare time–a superb gymnast, martial artist, musician and actress.  Often accompanied by her father as a character in her music videos, the entire family provides considerable encouragement to the many skills in Elena’s arsenal.

Although every music video is exceedingly well done, I most enjoy her classical-crossover selections. Her renditions of “Ave Maria” (Caccini, Schubert, Mascagni and Bach/Gounod), “Ombra Mai Fu” “Pie Jesu” and the remainder are superbly done.

I have really enjoyed getting to hear some traditional Japanese selections of late; and hope that Elena expands that particular offering to her fans and followers.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the assistance of another friend, renowned improvisational pianist, Chooka Parker, who accompanied Elena in her release of  cover, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

For a treat to the ear and eye, try Elena’s YouTube link at:  https://www.youtube.com/user/MissElenaHouse

— R. Johnson