Anneli Drecker is a Norwegian singer, composer, arranger, and keyboardist who is best known as the frontwoman for the gothic pop band Bel Canto. She has recorded and toured with a diverse range of artists including Jah Wobble, a-ha, Röyksopp, and Jan Bang, to name a few.
Born and raised in Tromsø, Drecker was an actress before she became a professional musician, appearing as Margit in Laila Mikkelsen's 1983 film Søsken på Guds Jord.
She decided to become a musician after hearing Depeche Mode's single "Just Can't Get Enough," from her older brother's record collection.
At the age of 17, she, Nils Johansen, and Geir Jenssen (aka Biosphere) formed Bel Canto and moved to Brussels. Their debut album, White-Out Conditions, appeared in 1987 from Crammed Discs. Using traditional instruments and multiple tonalities, the recording drew rave reviews in Norway and soon found its way to the rest of Europe, the United States, and Canada, where the band signed to Nettwerk. Drecker's voice was alternately compared to Elizabeth Fraser's (Cocteau Twins), Lisa Gerrard's (Dead Can Dance), and Annie Lennox's (Eurythmics). A second album, Birds of Passage, was issued in 1990 to nearly universal acclaim.
In 1992, Drecker collaborated with composer Hector Zazou and appeared on his Sahara Blue album. She also resumed her acting career -- however briefly -- appearing in director Thomas Robsahm's Svarte Pantere.
Jenssen left Bel Canto shortly before the recording of their third album, Shimmering, Warm & Bright, which was released in 1992. Drecker sang on Motorpsycho's Timothy's Monster in 1994. Bel Canto recorded two more albums in the '90s before going on hiatus for a number of years to pursue solo projects. Drecker undertook mostly collaborative work until 2000, when she released her first solo album, Tundra. That same year, she became a theatrical actress, appearing in Par Lagerqvist's play Bøddelen and began working in the studio and touring with Röyksopp (the latter, a relationship she maintained through 2012).
Drecker continued working in the theater, appearing in notable works such as Peer Gynt and Tom Waits' The Black Rider, and in the film De 7 Dødssyndene, a collaborative work from four directors.
In 2002, Bel Canto (Drecker and Johansen) reunited to release Dorothy's Victory, featuring a large cast of musicians and co-producers. Drecker's collaborative work continued, she sang on albums by a-ha (and toured Europe with them twice) and Apoptygma Berzerk, among others. In 2004 she was a juror on Norway's version of Pop Idol.
Her second solo full-length, Frolic, was released by Capitol in 2005. She played only select shows in support because she was pregnant; she gave birth to a daughter in 2006. Drecker was awarded Norway's distinguished Nordlypreisen in 2007 for her lifetime achievement in the arts (previous winners included Mari Boine and Jenssen). In 2010 she reunited with Johansen and Jenssen for a Bel Canto concert at the Døgnvill Festival in Tromsø, performing Bjornstad's Oratorium, and released the pop single "Unseen" in collaboration with Simone Larsen and Jonny Sjo.
In 2014, Drecker appeared as Penelope in composer Trygve Brøske's operetta Kiberg Odyssey with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra. A year later she performed as Toto in a new, experimental adaptation of The Wizard of Oz by the Hålogaland Teater directed by Jon Tombre, with a completely new score written by Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan of Motorpsycho. Also in 2015, Drecker released her next album, Rocks & Straws, on Rune Grammofon. She composed and arranged the music and produced the recording. Its songs were based on the work of cult poet Arvid Hanssen and translated to English by artist and writer Roy-Frode Løvland. The set featured an all-star cast including guitarist Eivind Aarset, drummer Rune Arnesen, bassist Ole Vegard Skauge, and the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra.