Anna Maria van Giersbergen, (Sint Michielsgestel, March 8, 1973), known artistically as Anneke van Giersbergen, is a Dutch singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist who became known worldwide as the lead singer and songwriter for the Dutch progressive/alternative rock band, The Gathering, between 1995 and 2007. Currently she has a solo career. The project was originally called Agua de Annique, but later going by her own name.
A frequent collaborator of Arjen Anthony Lucassen, she portrayed main characters in the albums Into the Electric Castle, 01011001 and The Theater Equation by his project Ayreon. In 2014 they created a new band together, The Gentle Storm, with a first album titled The Diary released in 2015.
van Giersbergen has also worked with Devin Townsend, Within Temptation, Anathema, Lawn, Farmer Boys, Napalm Death, Moonspell, Novembers Doom, Globus, Giant Squid, and many other artists and projects.
van Giersbergen was born in the small city of Sint Michielsgestel, Netherlands. She began singing at age 7, when she participated in a music contest. At 12 years old she participated in her school choir where she studied and toured through France. Later she began taking singing lessons and joined her first band. After this first experience, Anneke joined several bands. In 1992, she founded the duet "Bad Breath" with guitarist and singer Deniz Cagdas (Spencer Edgards), with predominantly rhythms like blues, jazz, folk and funk. She joined The Gathering in 1994, and she is most notable for her work with them.
The Gathering and several collaborations (1995-2006):
In 1998, she sang on the Ayreon album Into the Electric Castle, a concept album telling the tale of an alien entity 'kidnapping' eight human souls from different times. Anneke portrayed an Egyptian woman from the time of the pharaohs.
In 2006, she appeared on the album 2006 Rubicon from Asia band members' John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes on the tracks "To Catch a Thief" and "Tears of Joy". She also appears on the Smear Campaign by the grindcore-death metal band Napalm Death, on the tracks "Weltschmerz" and "In Deference", contributing spoken rather than sung vocals "for good effect and relevance to the track".
In June 2006, the epic rock band Globus released the album Epicon, which included Anneke's vocal and writing contributions. Anneke co-wrote the lyrics for "Mighty Rivers Run", and sang lead vocal on the track as well as dueting with Christine Navarro on the seminal "Diem Ex Dei".
The Gathering departure, Agua de Annique and further collaborations (2007-2011):
On 5 June 2007 it was announced that Anneke would be leaving The Gathering in August 2007 to focus on a new project, Agua de Annique, and spend more time with her family. On 24 November 2007 she performed the song "Somewhere" with Within Temptation in Eindhoven. On 7 February 2008 she performed the song "Somewhere" again with Within Temptation at the Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, and it was featured in the Within Temptation live DVD Black Symphony.
Anneke also sings on the Ayreon album 01011001, released in early 2008. The character she portrays is one of the Forever, an alien being of the same race, who kidnapped her character from Into the Electric Castle.
She sings on "Scorpion Flower" from the album Night Eternal (2008) from Moonspell. On 3 December 2008, she performed this song live with Moonspell in the 013, Tilburg.
Anneke collaborated with Devin Townsend on his albums Addicted in 2009, Epicloud in 2012 and Sky Blue in 2014 and sang on most songs in them. She also appeared as guest vocalist on several Devin Townsend Project live shows including the second show in the By a Thread concert series in 2011 and The Retinal Circus in 2012, both of which were released as DVD.
She appeared as a guest vocalist on the debut album of The Human Experimente, a project, which also features Robert Fripp of King Crimson, John Wetton of Asia and King Crimson, Maynard James Keenan of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, Adrian Belew, U-G-O with Sean Kingston, and Dann Pursey of Globus and Vantan.
In 2011, Anneke collaborated with Yoav Goren on the song "The Promise", the lead track on Globus second album Break From This World. She co-wrote lyrics as well as being a featured vocalist along with Lisbeth Scott on the track. She performed the track "What Could Have Been" for Death/doom metal band Novembers Doom. Anneke also features on a track in the orchestral re-interpretations album from English progressive rock band Anathema, Falling Deeper, released on 5 September 2011. She has been touring with the band in South America singing the song "Everwake".
Solo career and The Gentle Storm (2012-present):
She has released a new album, Everything Is Changing, in January 2012 through the Dutch division of PIAS Recordings and under her own name.
On 22 April 2014, Arjen Anthony Lucassen revealed that his next project would be a collaboration with van Giersbergen, their third work together after the Ayreon albums Into the Electric Castle and 01011001. He described it as "an epic double concept album, a combination of 'classical meets metal' and 'acoustic folk'." The project is named The Gentle Storm, with their first album released in 2015.
Later in 2015, van Giersbergen collaborated once again with Lucassen, portraying the character of Fear in the musical The Theater Equation, consisting of a three shows of a live version of the Ayreon album The Human Equation.
Musical roots and influences:
Anneke's musical roots are in classical and jazz music, but she enjoys rock and pop the most. Her main influences are Prince, Ella Fitzgerald and Thom Yorke (Radiohead).
On 20 February 2005 she gave birth to a son named Finn, whom she had with her husband Rob Snijders.