Throughout a career spanning 15 years, Catterfeld has sold over 800,000 records as a solo artist, making her one of the best-selling German music artists of all time. Aside from her commercial accomplishments, her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a Bambi Award, a Goldene Stimmgabel, and an ECHO Award. An established actress, she has appeared in several international television and theatrical films, including Keinohrhasen (2007), The Promise (2011), and Beauty and the Beast (2014). In 2016, she became a coach on the German television series The Voice of Germany.
Catterfeld was born and raised in Erfurt, Thuringia, then part of East Germany. Her father, Jürgen Catterfeld, is a foreman; her mother, Annemarie Catterfeld, is a teacher. A former athlete, Catterfeld started playing the piano and the flute at the age of 15, simultaneously taking her first dance and vocal lessons. After her high school graduation from Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium in Erfurt, she relocated to Leipzig to study pop and jazz at the Felix Mendelssohn College of Music and Theatre for two years. In 1998, her seven-song debut release, entitled KIV, hit the market but found little to no recognition in the music industry.
After her studies in Leipzig, Catterfeld participated in the second season of the MDR singing competition series Stimme 2000, where she performed under her short-living pseudonym Vivianne. Her self-written song "Whenever You Need a Friend" appeared on the show's promotional album Stimme 2000 – Die Finalisten. A critics' favorite, she finished second in the competition, losing to duo UC, consisting of singers Danny Heims and Kathrin Jantke, both of which failed to sign a recording deal after the final show. Catterfeld, on the other hand, earned a management and recording contract with BMG sub-label Hansa Music by Stimme 2000 jury member and label boss Thomas Stein.
In 2001, Hansa released Catterfeld's first single "Bum", a re-written German uptempo version of British girl group All Saints's 1998 hit single "Never Ever", promoting her under her surname only. The song failed to chart however. In support of her musical ambitions, she auditioned for a supporting role in the long-running RTL Television soap opera Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten the same year. Though generally unenthusiastic about an acting career at the time, Catterfeld accepted RTL's offer to join the cast as character Julia Blum. She first appeared on-screen in episode 2316, broadcast on September 20, 2001. Two months later, her next single "Komm zurück zu mir", a pop soul ballad, was released. A significant shift from the EDM-influenced sound of her debut single, it reached number 76 on the German Singles Chart. In 2002, Catterfeld was handpicked by musician Udo Lindenberg to appear on his 33rd album Atlantic Affairs. She recorded vocals for two songs on the album, which was later re-worked into a revue in which Catterfeld co-starred. Two further singles released by Catterfeld, "Niemand sonst" and "Gefühle", both reached the top forty of the German Singles Chart in 2002.
In March 2003, "Für dich" was released. Composed by Dieter Bohlen and re-written for Catterfeld, the pop ballad was heavily promoted on GZSZ. Upon its release it became an instant success, reaching the top of charts in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. One of the best-selling singles of 2003, it sold 250,000 copies within three days and was certified platinum by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI). In May 2003, Catterfeld's debut album Meine Welt was released. A collection of pop songs and soul ballads with elements of contemporary R&B and dance, it debuted on top of the German Albums Chart and reached the top five in Austria and Switzerland, eventually going platinum. In October 2003, Mariah Carey invited Catterfeld to be the opening act for the German leg of her Charmbracelet World Tour in Hamburg, Berlin, and Munich. Also in 2003, Catterfeld hosted the MDR singing competition Lucky Star 2003, and became a regular co-host on the music event series The Dome.
In 2004, Catterfeld voiced angelfish Angie in the German version of DreamWorks' computer-animated comedy film Shark Tale. "Du hast mein Herz gebrochen", the lead single from her second album, was released in January 2004 and became another number-one success for Catterfeld. Parent album Farben meiner Welt, was released two months later and reached the top ten on the charts. While not as commercially successful as its predecessor, it produced two further singles, both of which entered the top twenty and top thirty, respectively. After several breaks from filming, in late 2004, Catterfeld announced that she would permanently leave Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten to concentrate on her music career. Her last appearance was broadcast on February 15, 2005.
In March 2005, Unterwegs, Catterfeld's third album, was released. It debuted at number one the German Albums Chart and produced the top five single "Glaub an mich". Unterwegs was later certified gold by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI). Following its release, Catterfeld ended her management contract with longtime mentor Veronika Jarzombek. In November of the same year, she began starring as fictional central character Countess Sophie von Ahlen in the historical telenovela Sophie – Braut wider Willen. Broadcast to uneven ratings on Das Erste, the series was cancelled in March 2006 after 65 episodes only.
In October 2006, the singer released her fourth studio album, Aura. Mousse T., Walter Afanasieff, and Max Herre contributed to the project which took Catterfeld's work further into the R&B genre and introduced an adult contemporary edge to her pop sound. Upon its release, Aura debuted and peaked at number ten on the German Albums Chart, marking her lowest-charting album yet. While lead single "Erinner mich, dich zu vergessen" became her fourth top ten hit, the album's second and final single "Die Zeit ist reif" failed to reach the upper half of the German Singles Chart. In November, Catterfeld filmed the RTL television film Das Geheimnis des Königssees, a thriller inspired by English author Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca. The film was not released until 2008.
In 2007, she co-starred with Stephan Luca in the romantic comedy Wenn Liebe doch so einfach wär. The television film garnered strong ratings upon its premiere, but received mixed to negative reviews from critics. The same year, Catterfeld made a cameo appearance as herself in Til Schweiger's Rabbit Without Ears, which became a surprise box-office hit and has since ranked among the most successful German films in Germany since the beginning of the audience census in 1968. In 2008, Catterfeld had a supporting role in comedy film U-900, a big screen parody of Wolfgang Petersen's epic war film Das Boot (1981). The satire was universally panned by critics.
Catterfeld's first project of 2009 was the police thriller Schatten der Gerechtigkeit co-starring Richy Müller. The film was well received by critics. Vulkan, a two-part disaster film about volcanic caldera lake Laacher See, was broadcast to generally mixed reviews from critics. It was awarded a German Television Award the following year. Engel sucht Liebe, a Christmas comedy film, inspired by Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire (1987), was broadcast to moderate ratings. Also in 2009, Catterfeld had a minor role in Lilly the Witch: The Dragon and the Magic Book, a children's film directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, and again played herself in Til Schweiger's Rabbit Without Ears 2. Because of her resemblance to actress Romy Schneider, she had also been cast to play the title role in the Warner Bros. film Eine Frau wie Romy. The project was cancelled in July 2009.
In March 2010, Catterfeld released her fifth album Blau im Blau on Columbia Records. Taking Catterfeld's work further toward an adult audience, it was recorded with smaller group of musicians. A moderate commercial success, Blau im Blau reached number 37 on the German Albums Chart. Its same-title lead single, the only track lifted from the album, failed to peak within the top fifty of the German Singles Chart. Also in 2010, Catterfeld appeared in the Sat.1 television film Die Frau des Schläfers, in which she played a call centre operator, whose son is abducted by his Iran father. The drama was broadcast to strong ratings. Catterfeld portrayed a soap opera actress in Dani Levy's comedy film Das Leben ist zu lang, which received a theatrical release in late 2010. The project garnered largely mixed reviews by critics, who called it "enjoyable and exhausting at once."
In 2011, the compilation album The Best of Yvonne Catterfeld – Von Anfang bis jetzt was released. The same year, Catterfeld had a role in the Channel 4 period mini series The Promise, written and directed by Peter Kosminsky. The serial praised by critics, and earned nominations for both the British Academy Television Awards 2011 and the Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2011 in the category of best drama serial. Also in 2011, she starred as Lotte Hass alongside Benjamin Sadler in the film Das Mädchen auf dem Meeresgrund about the first dive of Austrian biologist and diving pioneer Hans Hass in 1950. Broadcast in 2011 on ZDF and ORF, it became a rating success and earned Catterfeld favorable reviews for her performance. Catterfeld reunited with Stephan Luca for Am Ende die Hoffnung (2010), a romantic drama revolving around German submarine U-864 in World War II. Filmed in Berlin and Norway, the television film became a mediocre rating success for its network.
Catterfeld's only project of 2012 was Plötzlich 70!. A fantasy comedy about a young woman who ages to retirement age overnight, the actress had to go through four hours of make-up each day to fit the character. Upon its broadcast, the film became a lukewarm critical and commercial success. The following year, Catterfeld appeared in Sputnik (2013), a children's film set days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It received a positive reception from critics. She had bigger roles in the ZDF musical film Nur eine Nacht opposite Pasquale Aleardi and the ensemble disaster film Helden – Wenn dein Land dich braucht. While the former became a critical and commercial flop, Helden earned strong ratings though it was mostly panned by critics. In November 2013, Catterfeld's sixth album Lieber so was released. It debuted at number twenty-one on the German Albums Chart, marking her sixth consecutive top forty entry.
Catterfeld rejected the offer to appear in Fast & Furious 6 (2013) to portray a princess in the Franco-German romantic film Beauty and the Beast starring Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel. The film was screened out of competition at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, and released to positive reviews, becoming a box office success. It was nominated for the People's Choice Award for Best European Film at the 27th European Film Awards, and received three nominations at the 40th César Awards. Also in 2014, Catterfeld starred in the lead role of Amelia in the television films Zwischen Himmel und hier and Mein ganzes halbes Leben, which she had filmed back-to-back in Ireland the year before. Based on a treatment by Irish novelist Cecelia Ahern, the films were broadcast to strong ratings as part of ZDF's Herzkino series. She also appeared in the film adaptation of Dora Heldt's 2013 novel Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Sie haben gewonnen!, which became another commercial success, and had a minor role in the comedy film Bocksprünge.
In mid-2015, Catterfeld participated in the second season of the reality television series Sing meinen Song - Das Tauschkonzert, the German version of the series The Best Singers. Her appearance on the show was accompanied by the re-release of Lieber so, which eventually surpassed its initial peak and reached number eight on the German Albums Chart, becoming her highest-charting album in a decade. Her rendition of Andreas Bourani's song "Hey" reached the top twenty in Germany based on downloads alone and became highest-charting release in years. In August, Catterfeld represented Thuringia in the Bundesvision Song Contest 2015 with her single "Lieber so", placing third in the contest with 114 points.
Catterfeld starred alongside Eliza Bennett, Rosemary Harris, and Matthew Macfadyen in the international co-production The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music, released in November 2015. A remake of the 1956 German film that in turn inspired the Broadway musical The Sound of Music (1959) and the 1965 film of the same name, she plays Maria von Trapp, the stepmother and matriarch of the Trapp Family Singers. Critics dismissed the film as "clichéd heimatfilm". Catterfeld is next set to appear in mini series based on British author Ken Follett's 1993 novel A Dangerous Fortune.
From 2004 to 2007 Catterfeld had a relationship with actor Wayne Carpendale. In late 2007, she started dating author and actor Oliver Wnuk, after having met on the set of their film U-900. Their son, Charlie, was born on April 19, 2014.Meine Welt (2003)
Farben meiner Welt (2004)
Blau im Blau (2010)
Lieber so (2013)
Guten Morgen Freiheit (2017)