Sissel in 2011
|Also known as||Sissel|
|Born||24 June 1969|
|Genres||Pop, folk, classical, operatic pop|
Sissel is considered one of the world's top crossover sopranos. Sissel's musical style runs the gamut from pop recordings and folk songs, to classical vocals and operatic arias. She possesses a "crystalline" voice and wide vocal range, sweeping down from mezzo-soprano notes, in arias such as Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix from Saint-Saëns's opera Samson et Dalila, to the F natural above soprano C. She sings mainly in English and Norwegian, and has also sung songs in Swedish, Danish, Irish, Italian, French, Russian, Icelandic, Faroese, German, Neapolitan, Māori, Japanese, and Latin.
She is well known for singing the Olympic Hymn (Hymne Olympique) at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway; for duets with Plácido Domingo, Charles Aznavour, José Carreras, Neil Sedaka, Warren G, Brian May, Bryn Terfel, Josh Groban, Diana Krall, Russell Watson and The Chieftains; and her participation on the Titanic film soundtrack.
Sissel received her first U.S. Grammy nominations on 6 December 2007 for a collaboration with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Spirit of the Season, a collection of songs from the choir’s 2006 Christmas concert featuring Sissel and the Orchestra at Temple Square, was nominated for the Best Classical Crossover Album of the Year, as well as Best Engineered Classical Album.
Sissel's combined solo record sales (not including soundtracks and other albums to which she contributed) amount to 10 million albums sold, most of them in Norway, a country with 5 million people. Her albums have also sold well in Sweden, Denmark and Japan. Together with Odd Nordstoga, they are the only Norwegian artists to have an album go 11 times platinum in album sales for Strålande jul" (Glorious Christmas).
When Sissel was nine, she sang in a children's choir, under the direction of New Zealand-born conductor Felicity Laurence. Sissel stayed with the choir for seven years. She said, "That was my musical education. We sang everything: classical and jazz, folk and even Māori songs. People said we sounded like an angel choir because we had this very clean pure sound, almost like an English boys’ choir."  Sissel won her first local talent competition when she was ten. She was influenced by various musical genres; her parents were interested in country music and classical music, and her brothers' interest in rock also influenced her. Later, Sissel said Barbra Streisand and Kate Bush were inspirations.
In 1983, she appeared for the first time on Norwegian TV with the song Evergreen in the children's program Halvsju. In 1984 Sissel appeared in the sing-along program Syng med Oss ('Sing with us') together with a children's choir. The first Norwegian song she sang with this choir was the Norwegian folk tune Ung Åslaug.
Sissel sang solo on TV several times in 1984. She also appeared in several TV programs, and met Rune Larsen, who later became her first manager.
1986–1994: Rise to prominence in Norway
In May 1986, Sissel performed during the intermission of the Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Grieg Hall in her home town of Bergen. That same year, her first album, Sissel, was released and sold more than 500,000 copies, making it the best selling album in Norway at that time.
In 1987, her Christmas album Glade Jul was released. It contained several traditional Christmas carols and it broke her previous record for best-selling album in Norway. This album still holds the record. Upon its release, it sold more than 600,000 copies in a country with a population of less than five million: to date, it has sold approximately 1 million copies. In Sweden, a Swedish language version was released, called Stilla Natt. That year Sissel was invited to represent Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest 1987, but she declined.
In the fall of 1988, Sissel moved to Oslo for a short period to play the role of Maria von Trapp in the Norwegian version of The Sound of Music. This production set box office records and was seen by over 110,000 people.
Sissel recorded the singing parts of the character Princess Ariel for the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish versions of the 1989 Disney movie The Little Mermaid, and was the speaking role of Ariel in the Norwegian and Swedish versions.
In 1989, she released her third album, Soria Moria, and on a Swedish TV-concert taped in Göteborg she met the man whom she would later marry, Danish comedian and singer Eddie Skoller. They sang "Vårvise" by Sebastian. The couple were engaged during the Christmas season of 1991 and married in Mariakirken in Bergen on 21 August 1993. This was a big event in Norway that year. They had two daughters, Ingrid and Sarah, before they divorced in 2004.
In February 1994, Sissel performed during the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. During the Olympics, legendary Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo visited Norway, where he came across one of her earlier albums. He contacted Sissel and the next day they recorded Fire In Your Heart, an English version of Se ilden lyse, the official theme song of the Lillehammer Olympics. These two versions of the song were released in February 1994 on Sissel's solo album Innerst i sjelen (Deep Within My Soul), a collection of Nordic folk songs. Domingo invited Sissel, along with world-renowned French singer Charles Aznavour, to partake in his annual Christmas in Vienna concert later that year. The concert was broadcast around the world and released as an album internationally.
1995–2001: Climb to international recognition
In 1995, Sissel was invited to perform at the annual Royal Variety Show in London. There she performed the renowned aria O Mio Babbino Caro from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini and the Norwegian classic Vitae Lux with the choir Gli Scapoli.
Later that summer Sissel was involved in recording the soundtrack to the film Titanic. The soundtrack, called Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture, became immensely popular, reaching #1 on the Billboard charts and selling more than 30 million copies worldwide. James Horner, the composer of the film's music, knew Sissel from her album Innerst I Sjelen and he particularly liked how she sang Eg veit i himmerik ei borg (I Know in Heaven There Is a Castle). Horner had tried 25 or 30 singers before deciding on Sissel.
Sissel had a No.1 hit across Europe in 1998 with Prince Igor, a duet with an American rapper Warren G on the concept album The Rapsody Overture which combined American rappers with European opera singers. Sissel sang an aria from Alexander Borodin's opera Prince Igor during the chorus, while Warren G rapped. When the song was recorded, Sissel had just a half-hour to learn the Russian lyrics and she got help from a Russian, who drove a cab in New York City: the driver's name, coincidentally, was Igor.
In 1999, she sang the Gaelic song Siúil a Rún on The Chieftains' 1999 album Tears of Stone.
In November 2000, Sissel released (in Norway only) her album, All Good Things, which was her first solo album in nearly seven years. Following high sales, the album was released throughout Europe and Asia the following year. The album included the duet "Where the Lost Ones Go" with fellow Norwegian singer Espen Lind, which was also released on his album This is Pop Music in 2001.
In December 2000, she was invited to represent Norway at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, where she sang "One Day" and "Weightless", both songs from All Good Things. She was introduced by Jane Seymour as "the Norwegian star Sissel."
In 2000, Sissel also released a greatest hits collection in Japan that included two new songs from the Japanese TV show Summer Snow, one of which was the show's theme song. Sissel is enormously popular in Japan and has released several Japanese versions of her albums there.
In 2001, she was asked to sing a duet with the Danish goth rockers Sort Sol. Sissel sang with them on the track "Elia Rising" from their album Snakecharmer, released in May 2001. They also performed together at the Roskilde Festival that year.
2002 to present: Global stardom
On 1 October 2002, Sissel released her first album in the USA: it sold over 100,000 copies in its first three months of release with almost no advertising or marketing. The album sold better than Decca record executives expected, their initial goal having been to sell 100,000 copies in the first nine months. The album, titled Sissel, was largely a re-recording of songs from her Norwegian album, All Good Things, with the addition of two songs, "Solitaire" and "Shenandoah".
On 24 May 2002, dressed in traditional Norwegian costume, Sissel performed her hit "Lær meg å kjenne" at the wedding of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.
In late 2002, one of Sissel's concerts was filmed at the Oslo Spectrum and later broadcast in March 2003 on PBS in the United States. The British Singer Russell Watson was one of her guests. The production was subsequently released as the DVD Sissel in Concert.
In December 2002, Sissel was again invited to represent Norway at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, for which she sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz and "The Prayer" in a duet with Josh Groban.
Sissel released her second USA album, My Heart, in March 2004. It was a classical crossover album and included two pop songs written by Richard Marx and one ballad, "Wait A While", written by Jon Lord of Deep Purple. "My Heart" reached #3 on the Billboard Classical Album Chart after debuting at #7 and spent 31 weeks on the chart.
In the summer and fall of 2004, Sissel went on tour with The Lord of the Rings Symphony. She was a featured soloist for an orchestral performance dedicated to the music from the The Lord of the Rings films. At each performance, Sissel performed with a symphony orchestra and choirs with 200 musicians on stage. Howard Shore stated, "Ancient Norwegian mythology and culture had a great influence on Tolkien's work. It is very thrilling to have the Norwegian singer Sissel perform as a soloist in The Lord of the Rings Symphony. Sissel's radiant voice illuminates this work." When asked about the tour in an interview, Sissel raved, "I love the music. It's such a wonderful feeling to be sitting in the middle of a symphony orchestra, surrounded by the beautiful voices of the choir and all those gorgeous melodies."
In May 2005, Sissel performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, Utah, on their radio and TV broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word, which is featured on nearly 2,000 stations across the USA and around the world. Sissel joined the choir to commemorate the Centennial of Norwegian Independence from Sweden, which was being celebrated that year. Sissel sang the ABBA song "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room," "Vitae Lux," the traditional Norwegian hymn "Herre gud, ditt dyre navn og ære," and the Norwegian national anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" (Yes, we love this country!), with the choir.
In October 2005, Sissel was invited to perform on the well-known temple-concert, Ninna-ji Otobutai, in Osaka, Japan. She sang "Pie Jesu", "Sancta Maria" (intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana), "You Raise Me Up", and several other songs. This concert was aired on television in Japan.
In December 2006, Sissel again joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as the featured soloist for their annual Christmas concerts. In four performances, she sang for more than 80,000 people in the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The concerts were videotaped for PBS television and aired in December 2007.
Sissel celebrated more than 20 years in the music industry with the release of a greatest hits album presenting 40 of her best and most well-known songs.
In March 2007, a statistically representative sample of the Norwegian population chose her as the best female Norwegian musical artist in competition with 15 other big names, including Lene Marlin, Wenche Myhre, Kari Bremnes, and Bertine Zetlitz. In the summer of 2007, Sissel toured Norway, Sweden, France, and the USA with a band. According to Sissel, this is a new concert format for her, without a choir.
For the 2007 holiday season, PBS stations aired two concerts starring Sissel as part of the December pledge drive, one with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir titled Spirit of the Season, released on CD and DVD in late September 2007, the other with operatic legend and good friend José Carreras titled Northern Lights, released on CD and DVD in early November 2007. The albums of these concerts have proven to be extremely popular, with Northern Lights reaching #10 in the Billboard Classical Crossover list, and Spirit of the Season staying firmly planted at No.1 on the Billboard Classical charts for nine consecutive weeks.
The album Northern Lights is a live recording of a concert at Bergstadens Ziir ("Jewel of the mountain town" in German), a church from the 17th Century in Røros, Norway (a 17th-Century Germany mining town). It was inspired by Norway’s winter, the Blue Hour, and the mystical Northern Lights. The concert featured the tenor José Carreras and music arranged by Kjetil Bjerkestrand. The musicians sharing the stage with Sissel were the Trondheim Soloists, the Nidaros Cathedral Girls Choir, and Sissel’s own band.
Sissel conducted an eight-city U.S. tour in February 2008, singing selections from Northern Lights. A second leg of the tour covered more cities in the central and southern United States and lasted through April.
On 9 November 2009, Sissel released a new Christmas album called Strålande Jul (Glorious Christmas), a project with Odd Nordstoga, another popular Norwegian singer. This album presents mostly lesser-known Christmas carols from Scandinavia. Sissel toured in both Norway and Sweden with Odd Nordstoga, The Real Group, Orsa Spelmänn, and Krister Henrikson. This album and their sold-out Christmas concerts received much critical acclaim in Norway and Sweden. The record company Universal Music anticipated sales of about 100,000 CDs, but ultimately sold more than 400,000 in Norway in the first two months.
In May 2010, Sissel visited China with Trondheimsolistene.
On 20 September 2010, an unauthorized biography of Sissel, named Sissel, by Stig Nilsson, was released in Norway. Nilsson had written several songs for Sissel earlier in her career. In the book, Nilsson claims—among other things—that Sissel never became a worldwide superstar because she did not want to be. The book has only been released in Norwegian.
On 15 November 2010, Sissel released a new album in Scandinavia called Til deg (For You), recorded in ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm, Nidaros Studios in Trondheim, and in Nashville. This album shows a new direction in music and is heavily influenced by the style of country, roots and folk. The album includes five songs sung in Swedish, three in Norwegian and two in English, including a Norwegian translation of Victoria Shaw's song "Never Alone", titled "Velkommen hjem", and a Swedish cover of Alisson Krauss' song "Ghost In This House", called "Levande död". Sissel has collaborated with Mikael Wiehe, Espen Lind, and Py Bäckman on the new album.
On 21 August 2011, Sissel performed the Norwegian hymn "Til ungdommen" by Nordahl Grieg at the National Memorial Ceremony for the victims of 22 July 2011 terrorist attacks. This ceremony took place in Oslo Spectrum and was broadcast live nationally to all the Nordic countries. H.M. King Harald and H.M. Queen Sonja of Norway were there with members from all the Nordic Royal Houses. The prime ministers from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and also the presidents of Iceland and Finland were at this ceremony.
In August 2013, she was married again to a Norwegian tax lawyer Ernst Ravnaas 
Awards and recognition
- 1986 – Årets navn (Person of the Year) by Norwegian national newspaper VG.
- 1986 – Årets spellemann (Musician of the Year) in the Spellemannprisen (Norwegian Grammy).
- 2005 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
- 2006 – Knight of the 1st Class in the Order of St. Olav. On 2 February 2006, The King of Norway knighted Sissel for her contributions to music and as an ambassador for Norway. She was the youngest ever recipient of this honor.
- 2006 – Juryens hederspris (Most Distinguished Artist—akin to a lifetime achievement award) in Spellemannprisen 2006. She is the youngest Norwegian performer ever to receive this award.
- A rose developed by Poulsen Roses is named after Sissel and she baptized the rose in Baroniet Rosendal on 4 Aug 2009.
- 2011 – On 16 September, a set of stamps of four Norwegian female performers (Wenche Myhre, Mari Boine, Inger Lise Rypdal and Sissel Kyrkjebø) was issued.
- 2011 – Rolf Gammleng Prize (Open category)
- Sissel hits Soprano F at 2:42
- Choir Nominated for Two Grammy Awards
- 11 platinaplater til superduo
- Har du et helgen-navn ?
- Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Cecilia
- Behind the Name: Cecilia
- Biography of Sissel from the official website.
- A description of Sissel Kyrkjebø from NRK
- Sissel 40 år i dag
- Legendarisk pauseinnslag fra Melodi Grand Prix 1986
- Norsk pop- og rockleksikon fra Vega Forlag (2005)
- The official Sissel website.
- Norway population
- Sissel og Eddie skilles
- Sissel Featured in Billboard Magazine
- Sissel Kyrkjebø (Soprano)
- The Wall Street Journal: In Titanic's Wake: A Voice to Remember . . .
- The Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2000
- Sissel aims at U.S. Fame
- The Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2002
- Billboard Classical Album Chart
- Sissel tours with the Lord of the Rings Symphony
- JAL Otobutai 2005
- "Northern Lights" reaches #10 on Billboard Classical Crossover list
- Spirit of the Season – #1 on the Billboard Classical Chart
- Billboard.com Charts – Top Classical Albums
- US spring tour for Sissel
- Ble tiårets bestselger på rekordtid
- Sissel mellom to permer
- Den förtjusande Sissel Kyrkjebö är tillbaka.
- Sissel har giftet seg
- ullensakerkulturhus: SISSEL KYRKJEBØ
- Spellemannprisen 1986
- Goodwill Ambassadors & Advocates: National
- St. Olavs Orden til Sissel Kyrkjebø
- A video on the ceremony. Aftenposten:Dette er stort, sa ridder Sissel
- Spellemannprisen 2006
- Sissel Kyrkjebø døber sin rose
- Specifications of the Sissel-Rose
- 16. september 2011– Norsk populærmusikk III
- Page 6 of Årsmelding 2011
|Recipient of the Open class Gammleng-prisen