God Has Sent To Us One Of His Angels --
Full Of Charm, Beauty And Grace --
Possessing The Voice Of A Heavenly Choir
--To Share With Us His Gift Of Music !!
WEB Site, click [ HERE ] **** Facebook page, click [ HERE ]
Click [ HERE ] to read an interesting article about Sissel
Click [ HERE ] to read an "Open Letter" to Sissel
Click [ HERE ] to listen to a sample of Sissel's Performances
She received several offers to move to the United States and "make it big". But Sissel (45) said no - because of her children and her wish for a quiet, private life. Now she loves the life in western Oslo.
She has sold six million solo albums, been on stage with Sting, Willie Nelson and Celine Dion, sung with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, and contributed with music on "Titanic", one of the greatest films in modern history. And now Sissel are sitting here in the corner of a small bakery surrounded by pensioners and Frogner-housewives.
- It's nice to have that kind of place like this, it 's probably my regular spot at the moment, she says. She is shrouded in an autumnal scarf, smiling and in good mood.
There are three years ago she moved back to Norway after 22 years in Denmark. Last summer, she got married again, with Ernst Ravnaas (54), and now they and Sissel's daughters, Ingrid (18) and Sarah (15), live here at Frogner in Oslo. In 2009, after more than 20 years from country to country, always on the move, she decided: I'm taking a break from everything. It was three years where she didn't do anything, just staying at home being a mother.
- I took three years off the calendar and did almost nothing. I did some concerts and put some plans for the projects I will be doing now, but I was mostly at home as a mom.
- You needed it?
- Yes , my girls had never experienced having me home nonstop. I had been living in a suitcase since I was 16 , and after the big tour with Odd Nordstoga I felt: "Now I have to stop. Now it goes way too fast". I needed to land in Oslo and find a family belonging in a new country and new environment.
Soon she is ready with a new Christmas tour, this time with concerts in Sweden.
- I am enormously looking forward to it. The challenge of Christmas concerts is to deliver the traditional Christmas songs, but also bring something new - without breaking with the atmosphere. Therefore, I have three backing singers from New York that brings the Gospel into the music.
Only 16 years old Sissel made the participants in the Eurovision Song Contest wane when she performed during the interval in Grieghallen. Who was this golden voice from Bergen?
That same year, the first album, "Sissel", came out, she was given an award and her career took off. But already as an teenager she felt the need of protecting herself from the world.
- As an 14-year-old, I saw a magazine which celebrities had shown off their home, and I thought: "What if that was me? It would have been absolutely terrible". Already then I understood that I will never share what is private with others.
- You've never had media in your home?
- Never. Setting up with husband and children, mom or dad? No, it makes me sick.
- How did you experience the media-pressure around your wedding and divorce?
- Yes, that's the way it is, I know it's coming. But I have always been clear on my boundaries.
- You secretly got married last year?
- Yes, it was quite secret. We wanted it as private as possible. It was a great day.
DIDN'T WANT TO MAKE IT BIG IN USA
Sissel has also declined - twice - to move and make it big in the United States.
- If I had accepted, my life would probably have been pretty different.
The first offer came when I was 18 and it was too early. I was too young.
The second time was right after singing in the "Titanic" movie. At that time I spent a lot of time in the USA and were invited to make several appearances. But I had small children and it was out of the question.
- Never regretted?
- Absolutely not. I can't imagine that I could have it much better, honestly! I've been doing so much exciting, been so privileged. Now I live in Oslo, it's quiet and peaceful, my children have a normal life. Such things are important to me.
- You never thought that you got married too early (24 years old with Eddie Skoller)?
- For me it has always been important to follow the heart, no matter what case. Sure I'm very naive, but ... She smiles.
- ... but if you follow your heart and the intuition, then you live a life. You can't calculate everything like a mathematical formula with two underscores below the answer.
When Sissel moved home in 2009 and decided to settle down in Oslo, there were some in her hometown Bergen that breathed a little heavily. Wasn't it there, below the seven mountains that Sissel belonged to?
- I have come closer ... But it was most convenient to stay in Oslo.
- It's still in Bergen you to grow old?
- You know the desire to get back to the roots. I know almost exactly which house
I want to live in, up the hill by Skansen with the city view. I met the Mayor of Bergen, Trude Drevland on Lindmo and she said: "Sissel, now that house is for sale".
The laughter echoes in the walls of the bakery.
- Certainly she was ready for me to move.
Interviewing Sissel Kyrkjebø is like being granted access to a vault where a rare rose-painted coffin stands on the top shelf, under a thin layer of stardust. A coffin that few have been allowed to study up close, much less been allowed to lift the lid off. Sissel Kyrkjebø has managed to keep the press breathless since she broke through as a 16-year-old without easing so much as a sliver of her private life. Sure, the adventurous career, which is almost unprecedented since Sonja Henie, is widely publicized. But Sissel hasn't exactly unfolded, whether it's her wedding to Eddie Skoller, daughters Ingrid and Sarah, her brother Bjorn who died suddenly, her divorce from Skoller, or her father who contracted Alzheimer's and passed away in 2016.
Most things about Sissel are private. Invariable. His gaze darkens a bit on questions that don't deal with the profession. She shows up for an interview dressed in jeans and a knitted jacket.
"So nice," Sissel says, greeting with that unmistakable Sissel smile.
She is tall and beautiful, and so popular that to say something unfavorable about Sissel Kyrkjebø would be the same as lighting a stave church or peeing on a glacier. Her image is as uncorrupted as Hardangervidda, if we disregard a pair of tight leather trousers in a duet with Espen Lind in the 2000s and her divorce from Eddie Skoller. Still, she hasn't commented on the breakup. Not the leather pants either, for that matter. But when asked 15 years ago, Sissel replied that she wasn't ready to talk about the breakup. Maybe it's time now?
"It's been so long since I divorced. I don't feel the need to talk about it," she replies.
She describes herself as light-hearted, with no lower limit to what triggers the tears. And she's happy to be moved by Disney movies, too. "I've inherited it from my mum. She and I can sit and cry together," Sissel said.
-- Social media can quickly become a world of illusion where you are not true to yourself
What was too early has become too late. The window has closed. And so it is with Sissel. What isn't about the job stays in the coffin. But perhaps there is a value in holding back, at a time when everyone should share everything?
"I've never been able to jump on the social media wave by sharing my private life. I don't feel comfortable with it, and only use it to elaborate on what is my profession. Social media can quickly become a world of illusions where you're not true to yourself. No matter what you do, you must always be true to yourself."
Let's take a step back to June 24, 1969 in Bergen. Sissel Kyrkjebø was born three weeks after US President Richard Nixon announced that he would withdraw 25,000 troops from Vietnam, and three weeks before Apollo 13 left Earth on its way to the moon. Laila and Erling did not know that they had become parents to the Christmas star herself, but gradually their daughter's talent began to shine through. At just three years old, she sang in the children's gospel choir. Mom had talked her in, despite the fact that the age limit was five years.
"Fortunately, I was tall for my age," Sissel says with a laugh.
It has etched itself into my memory, standing there neatly in line, while a grown man with glasses stood at the front and sang. The man was Rune Larsen, who is credited with discovering Sissel. By then he had gotten 80's curls, she had turned 14 years old and had just started in "Sing with us" on NRK.
Adult men with curls have basically played a big role in private as well. Sissel met 45-year-old Eddie Skoller during a television show in 1989. He was the presenter, she guest. The couple married in Bergen in 1993 and moved to Charlottenlund outside Copenhagen. Four years later, her daughter Ingrid arrived. Two years later, Sarah arrived. Sissel talks about her toddler years. The importance of living in the present. Although she toured a lot, she tried to facilitate short journeys:
"It's not fun to go on tour and be away from the kids for two weeks. But at the same time, it's my job.
After 11 years of marriage, the couple went their separate ways. Skoller later told Jyllands-Posten: "Actually, we were the perfect couple, Sissel and I. I didn't mind playing second fiddle. For me, the breakup came like lightning from a clear sky." But as Sissel says, "there were some dark clouds in the sky I didn't see." In 2011, Sissel and her daughters moved to Oslo.
"I was very ready for it. I took a break from my career for two and a half years and was just at home. I wanted the girls to know I was there when they got home from school. Everything was new to them here. They had never lived in Norway, even though it was my homeland."
Ever since the children were born, Sissel had done her utmost to make sure they spoke Norwegian. They spoke Danish with her father, which naturally was, but Sissel herself never laid about under the age of 22 in Denmark.
"My daughters answer me in Danish when I speak Norwegian to them. Even after many years in Norway."
Sissel laughs and demonstrates with a couple of Danish phrases.
"They speak Norwegian with everyone but me."
The daughters are 23 and 20 years old. Sissel tinkers when she talks about having grown children. But at the same time, there's something about letting go.
"I've lived a life where I've traveled a lot. It's kind of been a preparation for what's coming now."
She smiles touched.
"I'm so lucky to see the girls grow up and shape their own lives. After all, life is incredibly vulnerable and goes in phases. Some phases have more uphill than straight ahead. When you have children, you just have to hope that you can give them enough ballast to build on."
-- A creative playhouse
As Sissel began to approach fifty, she had an idea. How about giving fans a new song every week for a year? A total of fifty songs, each with a music video and a video with personal reflections. Sissel describes "Reflections" as a creative playhouse, where she can unfold freely. With her daughters halfway out the door, she's also had time for that. But what's it really like to look 50 after its name?
"Just fine," Sissel assures.
- Great. I hope I'm related to my mom. She's 86 now and holding up really well.
"The First time ever I saw your face" is one of the songs in "Reflections". In the video, Sissel talks about the beauty of a song that isn't about hurt feelings, but rather celebrates love: "A song celebrating the first time ever I saw your face. The first moment when I kissed your mouth, the first moment when I lay with you."
Sissel herself found love again in 2009, with tax lawyer Ernst Ravnaas. Also he a man with curls. The couple married in 2013 in Hov Church. The days in the apartment in Oslo often begin with Sissel walking the dogs, and if it suits herself that way, she and Ernst eat breakfast together. They spend their holidays and weekends at the white-painted country house by Randsfjorden.
"I would love to live in the countryside," says Sissel.
"But I have a man who has his job."
The country house reminds her of her childhood vacations with her grandparents, with fishing trips, rhubarb and currants.
"I grew up in a small apartment building in Bergen, so my relationship with the garden is a porch box. Being with my grandparents are golden-edged childhood memories. I dream of becoming like a grandmother when I become a grandmother myself. I want to recreate that good feeling. Something my own girls have gotten from my parents."
"With adult children, you can in principle become a grandmother before long?"
Sissel laughs thrillingly.
"Then I'll probably be crazy." My daughters also say it, "Mom, when you become a grandmother, you're going to take off completely." This cycle of life, it's both wistful and great.
Sissel remembers moving to Denmark at the age of 20. Everything was new. Still, she didn't feel lonely. "It was a wonderful time."
-- I love Christmas, but my outlook on the holidays has changed
We know her as "Soprano-Sissel", "OL-Sissel", "Titanic-Sissel" and not least "Jule-Sissel". How does it feel to be so attached to Christmas that many people think of her before they think of Jesus?
Sissel puts in laughing. The laughter resounds so loud and long that the journalist blushes and someone in the next room looks out.
"Christmas is a holiday whether you're a believer or not," says Sissel, revealing that the song she's most looking forward to on the upcoming Christmas tour is "O Holy Night."
"I love Christmas, but my outlook on the holiday season has changed. Christmas for me is also a cultural phenomenon, like American Thanksgiving, when family is together. Christmas is our community."
Some "Fanny and Alexander" Christmases à la Bergman have never been at their house:
"We're not that many in my family. The smallest Christmas we've had was when the girls and I celebrated together, just the three of us. It was really nice, too," Sissel said.
She adds something that is important to her:
"In the Christmas concerts, I want to give the Christmas spirit and touch. And make it clear that Christmas is all that we have together. That Christmas is for everyone. Whether I'm singing Clapton or about the Bethlehem child. Or Joni Mitchell's song "River." About the sore Christmas, when you are lonely or have heartbreak.
Sissel remembers a childhood hiking in the mountains every Sunday. She, her parents and her two big brothers. Most often it was rain.
"We didn't go to church every Sunday, but the hikes in the mountains were the best service for me. That's still the case. I get closest to faith in church and in nature.
You may have sung more in church than you have been to a service?
"Yes, maybe," says Sissel.
"Or... I feel at home in church. No one can take that faith away from me. It's nice to be part of a greater sense of security and know that you're not alone. It sounds naïve, but it's my child faith."
In addition to her child's faith, Sissel took home with her confidence that she would be able to shape her own life. The parents didn't interfere with the choices. She has tried to pass on the same to her daughters.
"You can't live your children's lives. When parents try, it's often done in the best sense. For example, whether the children have a talent. My parents were supporters and observers."
There has been no shortage of offers, but Sissel never succumbed to the temptation to take her daughters on the red carpet.
"I was very aware that the children were under my protection. They should be allowed to be themselves. We went to the movies together when there was no red carpet."
What about her upbringing, has she been itching to steer direction or spare her children heartache?
"Yes, sometimes," says Sissel.
"But at the same time, they're going through this and that. And that's how my parents sat when I was young. I want to be as conscious as mom and dad."
-- I never started singing to be a star
She is described as a "singer in everything from pop and folk music, to classical and hymns". And that's pretty descriptive. Someone who has sung with Odd Grythe, Neil Sedaka, Sting, Plácido Domingo and Warren G can hardly be accused of cultivating his genre.
"I never started singing to be a star, but because I loved to sing," says Sissel, and the tone reveals that a lack of label doesn't bother her in the slightest.
When Sissel released the album "Merry Christmas" in 1987, it sold an unimaginable 600,000 copies and stands as one of Norwegian music history's greatest successes. In total, she has sold six million solo albums, recorded music for blockbusters such as "Titanic" and "The Lord of the Rings" and toured the world. What's she like before she goes on stage? Nervous?
"No, but I get very tired. I have to have a place and go to bed and take a little rest. And then I get adrenaline."
Rock bands have whiskey on the raider, your requirement is a bed?
"I've been lying on the floor too. Then I go through the whole concert in my head, just like an alpine skier walking through the trail."
There have been times when she has been given an Iron Curtain. Sissel doesn't take it too heavily. Then she just makes up some text or starts over. It's not a matter of being so yourself. But in one field, she is unwavering: professional pride. Both in herself and in the people she works with.
"I'm a perfectionist."
She nods towards the journalist.
"You're also a perfectionist, since you're both recording the interview and taking notes. We should all be proud of our profession."
How do you react to them with a more slumsy attitude?
"They have to stand for that. For me, it's important to have respect for my profession and take it seriously. I'm lucky enough to be able to choose to work with people who are great at what they know and who are proud to deliver. But it's a performance profession. Someone said, 'You're never better than your last concert'."
She nods knowingly.
"It's pretty nasty. But at the same time, one must look at what the prerequisites are on this particular day, and not be too oneself. I've tried to pass this on to my girls as well. For example, when it comes to schoolwork, but also there you have to be conciliatory. You have to see the whole picture. What are the prerequisites right now? You can only do your best."
-- When you're in the middle of it, it's hard to lift your gaze
Stardust has been sprinkling over Sissel for almost 35 years. But she's also stood by some black holes. The year was 1999. Sissel was seven months pregnant with Sarah and was preparing for her 30th birthday. What were they going to eat? Who should they pray? Then came the phone call from her mother. The younger of her two older brothers had died, aged 36.
"I didn't understand anything. I broke down. 'Why?' I thought. I tried to push the question away, but it came back," Sissel told VG in 2003.
When shock strikes, and life more than butter, where does Sissel Kyrkjebø draw strength from? How does she get on?
"I derive a lot of my strength from my faith," Sissel says.
"But when you're in the middle of it, it's hard to look up. What you're going through is so energy-consuming that you can't make it. Then it is incredibly good to have faith and know that you are not alone."
"I try to remind myself that I can learn something from it. That when I come out the other side, I'll be much stronger. And that I'm not alone. I have my child faith at the bottom."
For someone who has been in the media spotlight since she was in her teens, does she possibly feel that fame has had a price? Is that something she's sacrificed? Sissel shakes her head.
"I don't know of any other life than this. I haven't missed a youth more than an athlete has."
- Athletes might experience...?
- I've got something else. I had it as the yolk in the egg and have been given so many opportunities and experiences.
Today, if with all her experience she should have given a piece of advice to herself at 16, on the steps of life, with all the sorrows and joys ahead of her?
"You have to be true to yourself. Always," Sissel says emphatically.
As it says in Mark's Gospel, "What does it benefit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?" That's my mantra.
SIssel Kyrkjebø (52) gained attention as a 16-year-old with songs such as "Love" and "Å Vestland, Vestland". 1986 was thus the year of her big breakthrough, and since then she has been one of the world's greatest artists.
Three years later, she met 45-year-old Danish humorist, musician and entertainer Eddie Skoller (74). After knowing each other for four years, the then 23-year-old Kyrkjebø Skoller gave her "yes" in her hometown, Bergen.
The marriage to Kyrkjebø was Skoller's third, and the couple lived together in Denmark. In a new interview with Dagbladet, the soprano tells how she invested in love back then.
"I've bet several times when it's been something I've believed in and the hope is right. The first time was when I was 20 years old, getting married and moving from Norway to Denmark. We have quite similar culture and language, but I didn't know if I would make friends there or what it would be like," the artist admits, adding that she likes to throw herself into new things.
"I like to be in control of my job, but I try to let go of control otherwise. If you have complete control, you lose parts of your life. For me, it was liberating to come to a new country, and to be something completely different than I was here," she continues.
The 52-year-old also eases the veil on what it was like to become a familiar face at an early age.
"I felt like I was sitting on a train that went very fast after I got to know each other. It was a lot of fun and exciting, but when I was 20 I felt like stopping a little bit. I traveled around for two months, and afterwards I realized I wanted to move to Denmark, which ended up getting married," she admits.
In 2004, however, the marriage ended, and after 21 years in Denmark, Kyrkjebø moved home to Norway.
-- This time, too, the star moved for love
In 2013, she married tax lawyer Ernst Ravnaas (67) for the second time. The wedding took place in a secret ceremony in Hov Church, a choir church from 1781 in Søndre Land municipality, without any guests present.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the singing star would release a song with her husband. The couple told VG that Ravnaas, who played the piano as a teenager, had imagined his wife's gentle voice and strummed out longing notes once she was on tour.
Kyrkjebø describes the song as beautiful, and started rewriting the lyrics to find the right story-line. It was the start of a collaboration that ends with a trilogy, where two of the songs have already been released: "I Rest My Eyes" and "The Journey".
-- Sold the apartment
Last year it became known that Kyrkjebø and Ravnaas had put their fashionable apartment at Frogner in Oslo up for sale.
They had lived in the 192-square-foot apartment since 2010, three years before they married. At that time, they forked out NOK 8,750,000 for the home, which has since gone through a number of upgrades.
Last year, however, Finansavisen reported that the home was eventually sold for this net sum of 32.5 million, three million above valuation. That's almost quadruple what the couple gave for the home eleven years ago.
Today, Kyrkjebø and Ravnaas live in Søndre Land. To VG, the artist has not hidden the fact that she felt more and more at home there.
"Then we thought to give it a chance, and with a home office and everything, we really got to test it. We noticed during the corona that we didn't miss so much coming into Oslo, we actually thought that it was most lovely to be on the farm, the artist continued to the newspaper."
|Sissel Kyrkjebø, the international singing sensation and national treasure of Norway, is established as one of the world’s leading crossover sopranos. Her angelic and powerful voice has made Sissel a national institution and she has sung all over the world, selling over ten million solo albums. She has contributed haunting vocal tracks for the soundtrack to Titanic and The Lord of the Rings, and has been performing duets with singers like Charles Aznavour, Andrea Bocelli, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Mario Frangoulis, Josh Groban, Brian May, Neil Sedaka, Bryn Terfel and Russell Watson. |
In 2005, she was knighted by the King of Norway, as the youngest ever to receive this honour. In 2006, her album 'The Spirit of the Season' with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir went to number-one on the Billboard Classical Charts, and received a Grammy nomination. A very remarkable voice that only comes once in our lifetime.
For seven biography sites, click: [ HERE ], [ HERE ], [ HERE ], [ HERE ], [ HERE ], [ HERE ] and [ HERE ].