European spotlight: Verna Mae Bentley-Krause
July 14, 2008
Verna Mae Bentley-Krause operates a flower shop near the entrance to Pulaski Barracks in Kaiserslautern. Little do her customers know that she wrote a wildly popular German song a few years back, catapulting her to fame.
How did you get to Germany?
As a child, my father’s friend told us how beautiful Germany was. From about eight or nine, it was always a dream of mine to come to Germany. When I was 27, I joined the military so I could come to Germany. That was 1979. I’ve been here ever since.
What was that like when you got here?
When I came into the military at 27, I was a racist. I was full of hate when I came into the military. They were going to kick me out but a sergeant told me he saw something in me. It was the first time in my life I had personal contact with a white person. He saved me, and I came to Germany. Ten days prior to ETSing I got dropped from a SPEC-4 to an E-2 for threatening to kill a captain because he made a racist remark. That was 1982. I stayed over here and worked awhile.
Tell me about your hit song "Ich liebe deutsche Land."
I spelled it wrong. Because I spelled it wrong, I gave people something to laugh at, which made it an even bigger hit (Search for Verna Mae Bentley-Krause on Youtube.com to view her performances of the song).
How did you come about writing the song?
One day I was out in the park with my dog, and I kept thinking to myself, "I love Germany. I love Germany." It came to me just like that. I had paper in my car that I wrote down the words on. I came home and told my German husband. I got my husband to make a video of me singing the song, and I sent it to five different TV stations.
I got a reply from a very small station in Berlin, saying they wanted me to appear on a show. I went to Berlin but didn’t get a chance to sing the song because the people on the show before me were arguing and it ran late.
So that was your chance?
A couple of weeks later, friends started telling me, "Girl, you’re on TV." I said, "No. I’m not." But I was. They were showing the home video I made for months (Soon afterward, Bentley-Krause won a song competition in 2001/early 2002. "Ich liebe deutsche Land" climbed to No. 27 on the European pop charts and stayed there for eight weeks).
Had you sung before or appeared on stage?
I had never been on stage, and the only singing I did was at home in the bath tub. I wrote that song in about 10 minutes … My husband kept saying, "Aren’t you nervous?" I told him, "Stop saying that word or you’ll make me nervous."
How long have you been arranging flowers?
About 22 to 25 years. This brings me back to being a normal person. All that hate I used to have has turned to love.
Verna Mae Bentley-Krause
Jobs: Florist, writer
Claim to fame: Singer of "Ich liebe deutsche Land"
Interview conducted by Steve Mraz. Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.