It’s hard to string the Holocaust and death metal music together, but this is what makes Inge Ginsberg unique! Surviving the Holocaust at a young age and now 96 years old, Ginsberg now finds herself as the frontwoman for a heavy metal band called Inge & the TritoneKings.
Ginsberg’s story could have come straight out of a Hollywood film. Born in Austria, she escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to a refugee camp in Switzerland in 1942, where she eventually looked after a spy villa for the Secret Service. At the end of World War II, Ginsberg and her first husband Otto moved to Los Angeles. The two actually worked in Hollywood, but in the music industry. There, they used their song writing skills to produce songs such as Dean Martin’s “Try Again”, and compose for Nat King Cole and Doris Day.
Though her career slowed down, Ginsberg continued to express herself through lyrics and poetry. She would re-invent herself at 93, when a musician friend named Pedro Da Silva noted that her poetry sounded like lyrics to death metal songs. Having experienced and witnessed various hardships throughout her life, Ginsberg’s poetry is quite heavy, taking on serious subjects such as mortality, the destruction of the earth, and loneliness.
Her musician friends made the connection between her poems and the usual preoccupations of death metal songs and insisted that Ginsberg perform with them. She was game, and the rest, as they say, is death metal music history.
Ginsberg, da Silva, and other musicians then formed Inge & the TritoneKings. “I’ve never been a singer,” she says, “I’ve always been a writer.” And in death metal, rather than singing, she could shout the lyrics instead! This was the start of an exciting journey for Ginsberg, using a form of expression that was both new, and yet comfortingly familiar.
Ginsberg is a prime example of someone who continues to live life to the fullest, and her story is captured in “Death Metal Grandma”, a short documentary by filmmaker Leah Galant on The New York Times website. “You have to do something which makes you happy. Some people drink. Some people ‘frisk.’ And I write poetry.”
Showing notebooks filled with her writing, Ginsberg added “I could write my poetry except nobody would hear it. But if I take part in the competitions, millions of people would hear it on YouTube.” At 94, she rocked the stage and amazed the judges and audience of Switzerland’s Got Talent. Her death metal songs even got her an audition for America’s Got Talent.
These days Ginsberg divides her time between New York and Switzerland. “It’s important to stay active and surround yourself with young people,” she says, “and keep doing things you’ve never done before.” Ginsberg once said, “My talent is surviving, not singing.” Her life is a lesson of enduring and living one’s best life.
Know more about Ginsberg and her amazing life on “Death Metal Grandma”: