Idiosyncratic Belgian pop composer Ozark Henry broke through to mainstream success with his 2001 album, Birthmarks.
Born Piet Goddaer in Kortrijk on April 29, 1970, he was the son of classical and jazz composer Norbert Goddaer, and began playing saxophone and piano at age six. Upon receiving an electric guitar for his 16th birthday, he and brother Jan formed a rock band, Church of the Nemesis. (Goddaer later assumed vocal duties as well, and the group changed its name to Heather O'Rourke in honor of the ill-fated child actress from the horror movie Poltergeist.) In 1994 Goddaer scored an underground hit with "Herny Man-She" by Jan's new outfit, Word. "Herny Man-She" was issued as Goddaer was working on his debut solo project under the name Botho; he also worked on a series of musical theater projects before adopting the Ozark Henry alias in 1995. The David Bowie
-inspired I'm Seeking Something That Has Already Found Me was a critical favorite on its 1996 release but generated scant commercial attention -- its 1998 follow-up, This Last Warm Solitude, recorded with cellist Audrey Riley, fared far better at retail and earned Goddaer a Zamu Music Award as best songwriter. After collaborating with saxophonist Frank De Ruytter and drummer Stéphane Galland
in the side project Sunzoo Manley, he returned to the Ozark Henry guise for his Sony label debut, Birthmarks, which went platinum on the strength of the hit singles "Rescue" and "Sweet Instigator." Goddaer next defied expectations yet again, teaming with K's Choice
's Sarah Bettens
's Geike Arnaert, and Arid
's Jasper Steverlinck
on the soundtrack of the Belgian television series Sedes and Belli. The fourth Ozark Henry album, The Sailor Not the Sea, followed in 2004, and two years later he resurfaced with The Soft Machine, which quickly entered the Belgian Top Ten and became his first number one hit. The album also topped the charts. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi