Laleh 2014-07-05 (cropped)
Laleh in 2014
Birth name Laleh Pourkarim
Born (1982-06-10) 10 1982 (age 37)
Bandar-e Anzali, Gilan, Iran
Origin Gothenburg, Västergötland, Sweden
Occupation Singer-songwriter, producer, guitarist, pianist, actress, record company manager
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, saxophone, drums
Years active 2000–2006 (actress)
2003–present (singer)
Label Island Records

Laleh Pourkarim (لاله پورکریم; born 10 June 1982) is a Swedish singer-songwriter and former actress. Following a short acting career, she entered the music industry in 2005 with her self-titled debut album which peaked at number one in Sweden and went on to become the highest selling album of the year.

She has since released five further albums, all of which have been produced, written, recorded, engineered and performed by herself. She has sung in both English and Swedish, in addition to her parents’ native tongue, Persian. In 2011, she participated in the Swedish television show Så mycket bättre, which sees a number of artists create new interpretations of the others songs. Her performances on the show were lauded by both critics and the public. Following the show, it was noted in the media that she had been given "a second breakthrough".

Her 2012 album, Sjung, was released across Scandinavia on 25 January 2012 to generally positive reviews. The lead single from Sjung, "Some Die Young" was a commercial hit across Scandinavia, peaking at number one in Norway for eight weeks and becoming the twentieth biggest selling single of all time in the country. It also went double platinum in Sweden and gave Laleh her second chart-hit in Denmark and first in Finland. Her latest album, Colors, was released across Scandinavia in October 2013. She signed to Island Records in January 2014, and followed with the September 2014 release of the "Boom" EP. She uses her given name Laleh as her stage name.

Background and personal life

Laleh was born in the Northern Iranian harbour town of Bandar-e Anzali, but fled the country a year later with her parents to live in Azerbaijan, and later moving on to Minsk and a refugee camp in Tidaholm. Her given name means "tulip" in Persian. She moved to Sweden when she was twelve (she has dual citizenship), and in her teenage years moved to Gothenburg to attend school in the multicultural district of Angered.

At Hvitfeldtska High School she was enrolled in the music program, growing up with classical music, ballet and circus music. She was later interested in punk, reggae and jazz music. She also learned to play guitar, and as a teenager formed a jazz ensemble with her music teacher named Bejola. She went on to teach herself to play percussion and saxophone.

She is the daughter of Houshang Pourkarim, who died in 1994. An opponent of the Islamic regime in Tehran, he was an artist, journalist and prominent Iranian ethnologist and rural sociologist from Bandar-e Anzali. During her appearance on Så mycket bättre, she discussed her tough childhood, moving from country to country, and how she witnessed her father's death. At a summer camp in 1994, he tried to rescue a woman who had fallen from her canoe into the water. As Houshang paddled out to help her, the canoe overturned. The woman survived but Laleh's father drowned. Laleh's mother, Atef, was a refugee from Georgia via Azerbaijan before she went to Iran to study comparative literature at the University of Tehran. Once the family arrived in Sweden, Laleh learned Swedish in eleven days, according to a media account of her biography.

Beginning her career in acting, she had a major role in the Swedish movie Jalla! Jalla!, directed by Josef Fares, which was a big success at the Swedish box office in 2000. Laleh moved to Stockholm in 2010 following a short stint in Skellefteå. Until 2011 she was known for her reluctance to give interviews, but more recently she has been more accessible to the media, including appearing on talk shows and other TV programs, a move that has benefited her career.

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