A Latvian-born-now-living-in-America Hollywood Diva wannabe named Linda Leen has recently been making publicity rounds in Latvia after having recorded a new album of songs here in Liepaja with the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra.
In a country of two and a half million people, it’s not that difficult to become a celebrity. She did an FHM photo shoot and appeared here on the Latvian version of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2008. One Latvian website even called her (ridiculously) the Latvian Mariah Carey.
She has already posted a track from the new album on her website, a song called “Pamosties,” which translates (ironically, as you shall see/hear) basically to “Awakening.” In an article in Diena, the main Latvian daily newspaper, which singles out “Pamosties” as one of the best new ballads of the year, Leen goes on to speak about the inspiration for writing the song, claiming that it was the poetry of Inga Gaile, how the song is really the anchoring point for the entire album, how it’s really about a child-like openness to love and life and blah, blah, blah.
Now, I’ve seen the CD, held it in my hands, and even seen some of the printed sheet music that was used by the orchestra musicians. Linda Leen’s name is consistently listed as the author of the music. The problem is, she isn’t. It’s clearly a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s beautiful 1972 ballad, “You and I,” from the album Talking Book. It’s not a note-for-note theft, as the song takes some turns that Stevie Wonder’s song doesn’t, and vice-versa. But the changes and the melody of the verses is clearly not Leen’s.
First the Stevie Wonder excerpt, the first verse:
You and I excerpt
Now the same first verse of Pamosties, which is the very same track on Linda Leen’s website, but who knows how long it will be up there, as I’m not the only one who noticed the theft: the comment board on Diena’s website contains several posts by other people calling her out:
Not to get all meta, but my first trip to Leen’s website made me laugh because her desperation for fame is at once so transparent and pathetic. I wonder what sort of psychological hoops one must jump through to conclude that you can steal from someone as well-known as Stevie Wonder and nobody will notice. While she’s already getting called out on the carpet for it here, on the margins of comment boards anyway. She’s due to sing a concert with the LSO here at the end of the month; it’ll be interesting to see if she can continue getting away with it that long.