A good-humored René Ulbrich stands in the most beautiful sunshine on a wooden walkway on Lake Cospuden in the south of Leipzig and sings his latest hit “Zwei Freunde”. In the video, these are Ulbrich’s niece Selina and her boyfriend Lino, both ten years old. They look each other openly in the eye, hold hands, play together and wear a heart split in the middle around their necks. An innocent and honest friendship, wonderfully staged by Oliver Thomas.
That’s what René Ulbrich’s latest single is about, too, about friends who are there for each other, for whom no distance is too far, who share their last shirt and sometimes leave each other alone. The pop singer from Freital hit the nerve of his audience: For eight weeks in September and October, “Zwei Freunde” landed at number one on the program “Die Deutsche Hitparade” from MDR Saxony. And the song with catchy tunes would have stayed at the top for a longer time if Ulbrich hadn’t had to make way for newcomers.
80 events canceled
For the musician, who writes, composes and records his own songs, this is a great success in these gloomy times for the industry. Apart from a few living room concerts in Austria and Switzerland, René Ulbrich has not had a single real appearance this year since March. “Eighty events were planned,” he says. He was able to postpone forty until next year, “the other forty will be canceled without replacement.” As was the case at the Christmas market in Döbeln.
The latest bad news reached his fans last week: His hit party on New Year’s Eve in the Tharandt dome hall was canceled. “The situation is so uncertain that we had to decide with a heavy heart,” says Ulbrich. It was to be his first own show in three years. For the artist, who has lived in Leipzig with his wife for three years, the rejection is the low point of a totally messed up year.
Cancellations are life threatening
He is now hoping for the coming year, otherwise he can probably give up his career as an independent musician. The state bans in the wake of the corona pandemic have driven the artist to the verge of ruin. In April, his eight-day music tour “Schlager unter Palmen” was to take place for the fifth time in Crete, with daily concerts by fifteen German pop stars in Crete’s largest amphitheater and René Ulbrich as host. “800 guests had already booked and paid for the trip when I had to completely cancel it because of the restrictions,” he says. For the reversal he needed a “high six-figure” amount at short notice, a sum that he had to raise with a loan.
“That was life-threatening,” says Ulbrich. The hotel did repay the money in August, but a lot stuck with him: “Nobody reimburses all my operating expenses.” For 2021 he is now planning a fan trip to Crete. At the moment, of course, nobody knows whether it may take place.
Overall, the prospects are not rosy, says Ulbrich. “The organizers are very cautious.” But the pop singer looks ahead – and wants to release a new single. “It’s a song of encouragement,” says Ulbrich. In the unusual 6/8 time with the title “Holijadijaho”.
But first of all, “Zwei Freunde” comes on TV. The MDR introduces René Ulbrich in the program “Music for you”. Not at the Cospudener See, but with a new video that was shot in the Thuringian glass-blowing town of Lauscha.
“Music for you”, November 27th, 8:15 pm, MDR. https://rene-ulbrich.de/
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