Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw (born 26 April 1981), best known by her stage name of Caro Emerald, is a Dutch jazz singer. She debuted on 6 July 2009 with her single "Back It Up". Her debut album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor set a new all-time Dutch chart record on 20 August 2010, spending its 30th week at number one on the country's albums chart, beating the previous record set by Michael Jackson's Thriller by one week. The album became the biggest selling album of 2010 in the Netherlands and has sold over 300,000 copies so far. In total more than a million copies have been sold. On 3 October 2010, Van der Leeuw was awarded the Dutch music prize "Edison Award" for Best Female Artist.
Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw was born on 26 April 1981 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She started singing lessons at age 12 with James Gilloffo in Amsterdam and joined a girl vocal group, Les Elles, under his guidance. Following high school she trained as a jazz vocalist at the Amsterdam Conservatory, graduating in 2005.
In early 2007 Dutch producer Jan van Wieringen invited van der Leeuw to sing the vocal on a demo track he was co-producing with songwriter and producer David Schreurs. The song, "Back It Up", had been written by Schreurs together with Canadian songwriter Vince Degiorgio and was based on a hip-hop beat created by Jan and Robin Veldman. Caro's jazzy vocal style was considered a "perfect match" for the new song.
The song demo was pitched to various publishers and labels but although the reaction was positive they struggled to imagine it suiting any particular artist and didn't believe it had a strong enough chart potential. In the meantime, however, the song was posted on YouTube reaching public notice around the world. Radio stations picked it up and the song gained popularity.
When Degiorgio, Schreurs and van Wieringen discovered van der Leeuw's sound had such potential, they set about working on a full album presenting Emerald as the star in the summer of 2008 and used "Back It Up"'s mix of 40s–50s jazz, easy listening, orchestral Latin, combined with infectious beats as a model. Adopting a sample based approach but with live instrumentation, the writing sessions drew from a wide range of influences including jazz organist Jackie Davis, exotica composer Martin Denny, mambo king Perez Prado, 20s/30s jazz and van der Leeuw's own vocal inspirations of The Andrews Sisters, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. The usual method would be for Schreurs to produce the backing tracks at home and then get together with top line writer and lyricist Degiorgio to write the song. Van der Leeuw would occasionally pitch in her own melody and lyrical ideas, and Van Wieringen co-created the tracks for "The Other Woman" and "Dr Wanna Do".
After the record labels they approached failed to sign van der Leeuw, Schreurs, van Wieringen and van der Leeuw created their own label Grandmono Records and released "Back It Up" as the first single on 6 July 2009. It was an instant hit and listed in the Dutch Top 40 for 12 weeks, peaking at No. 12. Kraak & Smaak provided a remix of the song. "Back It Up" was the most played song on Dutch radio station 3FM in 2009. Follow up A Night Like This became a No. 1 hit in The Netherlands.
In 2011 Emerald recorded a version of Brook Benton's 1963 hit "You're All I Want for Christmas", sampling the original song to produce a duet with Benton, who died in 1988. The song was released in December 2011.
On New Year's Eve 2011/2012 Emerald appeared on BBC Two television on Jools Holland's Hootenanny show backed by the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
In early 2012, Emerald won two German awards: a Goldene Kamera for Best Musik International and an Echo Award for Best Newcomer International, beating out other Echo nominees who included Lana Del Rey, Gotye, and LMFAO. She made her American debut in January 2013, performing in Los Angeles and New York.
Van der Leeuw's debut album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor was released on 29 January 2010 and immediately occupied the number 1 position of the Dutch Album Top 100 charts. On 20 August 2010, the album had been number 1 for 27 weeks, an all time record, beating Michael Jackson's Thriller, which spent 26 weeks at number one in 1983. The album reached double platinum status in the Netherlands on 5 July 2010. In August 2010 it reached triple platinum., in November 2010 four times platinum (200.000) and in December 2011, six platinum (over 300,000 albums sold). Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor spent 104 weeks in the official album charts, until it was removed due to a Dutch chart rule which provided that albums can't spend more than 2 years in the charts. It later returned and climbed as high as No. 8 after albums could re-enter the album charts if they are sold at full price.
The second single from the album was "A Night like This". The song was listed in the Dutch Top 40 for 26 weeks and peaked at number 2. In the national single charts, the song peaked at number 1. It was the most played song in The Netherlands in 2010.
On 15 January 2011, she won the Popprijs 2010 for best Dutch pop act of 2010. Also in 2011, the album was released throughout Europe with great commercial success. Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor became a hit in the UK (1x platinum with sales exceeding 360,000, 8 weeks top 10 peaking at #4), Germany (1x platinum with sales exceeding 280,000, peaking at No. 5 and Platinum single for "A Night Like This" with sales exceeding 340,000), Poland (6x platinum), Italy (Gold Single for "Back it Up"), and Austria (#1 with "A Night Like This") In the UK, all 6 singles and even the entire album were A-listed by BBC Radio 2. Over 1.200.000 albums have been sold in Europe. Due to its exceptional success, the album was included in an episode of the Dutch version of Classic Albums in April 2012.
In August 2012, Emerald's label Grandmono announced that it will release her debut album independently in the USA. This will mean a big investment of 200,000 euros. To make the independent release possible they teamed up with several American companies:
Magic Beam Entertainment: PR, marketing and distribution