Since 2002, she's landed a consistent string of singles, scored the song "Take My Heart" for the cinematic thriller The Poet and was the celebrated vocalist behind a national TV spot campaign on RTL (the biggest TV station in the German media scene). Along the way she's also earned the top 10 mainstay song "Sign Of The Times" on her homeland's coveted All Star Project, topped the charts for over 20 weeks with the smash "Du Bist Nicht Allein" and entertained 100,000 people at the acclaimed venue Stuttgart Stadium. But even with all the attention and acclaim, the soft-spoken troubadour remains humble and bolted firmly to the floor.
"I try to be real with what I'm doing and let people see my heart," says Brendel in her distinct accent. "For me it's about sharing my faith with as many people as I can who don't know Jesus. The fact that my music gained recognition back home is really what I wanted for that mission. My goal wasn't to get attention when I walk down the street," she says.
Brendel's talent is on the verge of further acclaim thanks to a recent stateside signing with Inpop Records. The label discovered the artist at last year's Gospel Music Association week when passed a copy of her most recent effort, Under The Fire (produced by Germany's top dog Udo Rinklin). After being courted for some time by Inpop and others, Brendel signed the dotted line to carry on her quest in America, a place she finds unusually receptive to Christian musicians.
"In Germany it's very difficult for a Christian to break into the mainstream market," Brendel explains. "America is so open to it, and most stores seem willing to carry a Christian artist. I think that drastically increases my chances of making an impact here," she says.
Given the overflowing honesty and varied sonic soundscapes on her self-titled Inpop debut hitting July 19th, that impact is imminent. Besides drawing from an influence pool as diverse as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bright Eyes and Sparklehorse, Brendel's charismatic vocals and story songs are loaded with sincerity, relatability and uncompromised artistry.
Songs from Brendel's eclectic, 10-song debut range from the redemptive rocker "Babel Towers" to the folksy, acoustic "King I Love" to the electronica-spiked plea for individuality, "Commodity." In addition, the empowering, ethereal ballad "No More," the dance-drenched "Pardon Me," and the impassioned first single "Fire" are sure to resonate with listeners of all tastes.
"There are so many elements I wanted to incorporate into my record, and I think it successfully showcases my appreciation of different styles," Brendel says. "Sometimes the record leans in the folk direction given the acoustic guitars, but there's also songs with electronic features and unique sounds that I've taped in random places and woven into the album texture," she explains.
The fact that music was always present in Brendel's household growing up, combined with unending support from parents and siblings, inspired Brendel to explore her own music. At age 16 she became a Christian, and shortly after Brendel was inspired by the songs of music legend Larry Norman. Following his lead, she picked up an acoustic guitar and taught herself how to play. After honing her musical chops in front of her five sisters and garnering much-needed encouragement from her church family, Brendel branched out to local audiences. The rest is history.
"It's really amazing to think about how far God has taken me," she says. "There I was just playing guitar alone in my room, and then fast forward years later and I see myself playing on Viva, the German equivalent to MTV! I've learned, though, that none of this is because of what I have to offer, but how God has used me and blessed me to do His work," Brendel says.
With Germany as a receptive starting ground, America has much to gain from this emerging artist.
"I want my music to touch everybody, whether or not they are a Christian," Brendel says. "When I'm writing and singing these songs, I want to aim straight for the heart and use my experience and my faith to draw the audience in. I want to move them in a way they've never felt before. My hope is that as time goes on Christ would enter their lives, just like He did mine."