A makeup artist based in New York, Julissa Guzman is an avid reader who enjoys works of fiction as well as self-help books. Julissa Guzman’s favorite fiction writer is Paulo Coelho. Best-known as author of The Alchemist, the Brazilian novelist is also known as a lyricist who recently collaborated with Ute Lemper on the album The 9 Secrets.
The German singer-actress, who currently stars in the Broadway revival of Chicago is known for her interpretations of Kurt Weill songs. She speaks of the album as reflecting an upbringing in postwar Germany, with her hometown of Munich still recovering from World War II bombing and immersed in Cold War uncertainty. Music presented the perfect escape route from a chilling reality.
The album itself had its genesis in Lemper reading Paulo Coelho’s book, Manuscripts Found in Accra, and discovering “a beautiful connection to the soul.” As it happened, Coelho was intimately familiar with Lemper’s work, and he allowed the singer to take those phrases from the book that most resonated and place them within a lyrical poetic frame. The resulting album is a series of atmospheric performances designed to amplify Coelho’s words.