Grönloh was born in the jungle of Tondano, North Celebes, Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), as her mother was a resistance fighter hiding from the Japanese occupying forces. She spent her early years in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies in a Japanese concentration camp. Her father, an officer in the KNIL, had been interned before her birth. Besides popular music, Grönloh also performed the Indo kroncong genre, singing songs such as "Bengawan Solo", "Boeroeng Kakatua", and "Nina bobo", and also sings jazz, which she claims is her favorite genre. She kicked off her career at age 16 and was the first Dutch teen idol of the Netherlands.
She has been a constant figure and prominent star in the international world of pop music, from Europe to the Far East. Her music is appreciated thousands of miles away in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, with popular hits like “Bengawan Solo”, “Burung Kakak Tua” topping local charts in the 1960’s. Her first single “Asmara” reached the top of the charts in all three countries.
Grönloh’s voice was golden, clear and sweet. The lyrics to her songs were beautiful and centered around love and nature.
In “Oh, Malaysia”, her love for the country is undeniable:
“Oh, Malaysia – land of glory
Where I found my heart’s true love
In a night so warm and tender
With the moon and stars above”
The chorus of “Bengawan Solo”, translated into English, beautifully captured moments of intimacy and love on the Solo River in Indonesia: