"Anjani has always been known as a great singer, a musician's singer," says Leonard Cohen, the musical/literary legend who co-wrote and produced Blue Alert, Anjani's debut album on Columbia Records. "She's known for this impeccable sense of tone and the ability to stack vocals one on top of the other, but this voice that she was showing here was a completely different voice that had moved somehow from the throat to the heart."
And who is this enigmatic singer that so beautifully salvaged so many of Cohen’s darkest and most desperate compositions?
Anjani Thomas was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii where she studied guitar, piano and voice. After attending Berklee College of Music for a year, she moved to New York and Los Angeles, playing the club circuit and working with with jazz luminaries Rob Schwimmer, Freddie Ravel, Carl Anderson, Frank Gambale, Scott Ambush, and Jimmy Earl. Anjani released two indie records of her own, a self-titled debut in 2000 that achieved critical acclaim, and The Sacred Names, which reflected her spiritual interests. A trademark of her sound—whether referencing jazz, folk, country, or Brazilian rhythms—is the ease with which she creates intimacy in the core of your heart, using just the human voice and a piano.
Anjani’s professional relationship with Leonard Cohen began in 1984, when she was hired as a background vocalist for Hallelujah, a song now recognized as one of the greatest in his canon. She was the sole female vocalist and keyboardist on his Various Positions world tour, and continued to record vocals for him on I’m Your Man (1988), The Future (1992) and Dear Heather (2004). But it was not until Blue Alert, that their collaboration achieved a true fusion of both of their creative strengths and talents.
Speaking of Anjani, Cohen says, "She seems to be able to channel some kind of spirit of place. Generally, people want to be generous, but
they go over the top or they give too much. But to be able to be generous in this manner of real generosity, which is not to overwhelm, but to merely satisfy and nourish: that is something very rare. She has this capacity -- melody after melody -- to hit the mark. Not go beyond it and not fall short...just perfect."