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Birth nameTouraj Keshtkar[1]
Also known asTooji
Born (1987-05-26) 26 May 1987 (age 36)
Shiraz, Iran
Occupation(s)Singer, model, television host, social worker
Years active2008–present
Japanese stage name
Literal meaningwinter solstice

Touraj Keshtkar[1] (Persian: تورج کشتکار; born 26 May 1987), known professionally as Tooji, is a Norwegian singer, painter, model and television host. He represented Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan and finished 26th (last) in the final.[2] Beginning with his single "Cocktail", he also started using the kanji characters 冬至 (tōji) in his artistic identity.


Tooji Keshtkar was born in Shiraz, Iran, and moved to Norway when he was one year old.[3] His mother is author and political commentator Lily Bandehy.[4] At the age of 16, he started modelling. Afterwards, he started working on MTV Norway where he presented "Super Saturday" and "Tooji's Top 10".[5] He was also educated as a social worker and has worked in asylum reception centres.[6] He now works as a child protection consultant in the department of after-care.

He won Melodi Grand Prix 2012 and was given the opportunity to represent Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan with his entry "Stay" [7] which qualified from the second semi-final and went on to place 26th (last) in the final, scoring 7 points.

On 10 March 2012, he presented the international jury votes on behalf of Norway at the finals of Melodifestivalen 2012, the Swedish preselection. On 18 May 2013 he presented the Norwegian votes for the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 held in Malmö, Sweden.

Since 2012, Tooji presents, with Margrethe Røed, the Melodi Grand Prix Junior in Norway. In 2013, he released a single entitled "Rebels". Tooji himself describes ‘Rebels’ as “dramatic pop-dance, with new organic elements blended in with hard electronica“.[8]

He moved to Stockholm to advance his sound. With the release of the song "Packin' Guns".[9] He combines electronic elements with urban heavy and organic sound. Tooji uses irony to contrasts with a dark and heavy beat. With his education and background as a social worker, his songs often express a political and social message. Tooji's single "Cocktail" deals with the gender roles in today's society.[10] The music video starts with a quotation from Gloria Steinem: "We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters". After coming out, he released his The Father project. Tooji's single and EP Father emanating from the project is about sexual relationships in the church and the hypocrisy in the public positions of the church. The music video for his following single "Say Yeah" tackles homophobic hate crimes.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Tooji holds a bachelor's degree in child welfare. He has worked in asylum reception centres helping children and teenage refugees and victims of human trafficking. This work motivated him to use his songs and profile to speak out for those who suffer in silence. Tooji is a supporter of LGBT and women's rights, as well as a supporter of Green Wave, Iran's democratic reform movement. Tooji wore a Free Iran green bracelet[12] during his performance in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

In June 2015, Tooji came out as gay to the Norwegian website Gaysir, stating that he hoped he could make it easier for young gay people by being open about his own sexuality. He was praised for his decision by the Norwegian National Association for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender People.[13]

The Father Project and single[edit]

His EP and single "Father" was part of his coming out process by tackling the difficult subject of sex and the church. He said "My new video "Father" is out, and so am I!".

The music video is filmed inside an Oslo church and depicts Tooji, hooded and caped like a monk, interrupting an attractive priest in the middle of his sermon and kisses him passionately, after which the video cuts to the couple having gay sex in front of the altar, along with generally approving reactions of the congregation met with a lot of criticism. Ole Christian Kvarme, the Bishop of Oslo of the Lutheran Church of Norway, condemned the video as "totally unacceptable" and "a gross misuse of the church", accusing the video's producers of misinforming the church's administration prior to filming about the video's actual contents.[14]

Tooji said he lost his job as a host to Melodi Grand Prix Junior, a version of Eurovision for younger performers as a result of the "Father" video and the Father Project. "The reason I was fired was that the music video was not consistent with being a role model for children," he said.[14] The Father Project is an attack on organized religion's hypocrisy and willingness to persecute others for being different. Tooji called this project as "the most important thing I've done in my life".[15]


Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
  • Released: 16 January 2012
  • Format: Digital download
  • Label: Tooji Music
  • Released: 20 May 2015
  • Format: Digital download
  • Label: Kawaii Records


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Swan Song" 2008 Non-album singles
"Stay" 2012 2 Stay
"If It Wasn't For You"
"Rebels" 2013 Non-album singles
"Packin' Guns" 2014
"Money" 2015
"Father" Father
"Say Yeah" Non-album singles
"—" denotes a single that did not chart or was not released.


  1. ^ a b "Touraj Keshtkar - Skatten 2010 - - VG Nett". Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  2. ^ "Tooji vant MGP: - Jeg vant! - VG Nett om Melodi Grand Prix". 11 February 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  3. ^ "Tooji – Artist og menneskevenn". Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  4. ^ "Lily Bandehy om sønnen Tooji: Jeg takker Gud for at han er homofil". Aftenposten. 16 June 2015.
  5. ^ "TV-kjendiser raser etter at sjef lurte muslimsk ansatt - VG Nett om Tro og livssyn". 2008-01-24. Archived from the original on 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  6. ^ AV: arve henriksen. "Tooji knuste forhåndsfavorittene - Aftenposten". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  7. ^ "– Han er fryktløs og skamløs" (in Norwegian Bokmål). 2012-02-13. Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  8. ^ " – Tooji: 'Rebels'". 30 September 2013. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Nykomlingen Tooji: "Jag blev olycklig av Eurovision"". WiMP Musik. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  10. ^ NRK (23 September 2014). "Guttete og jentete". NRK. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Wiwibloggs: Tooji tackles homophobic hate crimes in brutal "Say Yeah" video". 24 October 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-02-26. Retrieved 2020-04-05.
  12. ^ "Azerbaijan and Iran locked in a spat over rumours of a gay parade". June 2012. Archived from the original on 2016-08-29. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  13. ^ Marthinussen, Linn-Christin (8 June 2015). "Tooji står fram som homofil: - Har fått nok av at unge jenter og gutter føler skam". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 9 June 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  14. ^ a b " Tooji coming out video 'gross misuse of church'". Archived from the original on 2020-01-23. Retrieved 2020-04-05.
  15. ^ "Wiwibloggs: Norway: Tooji comes out, releases new song "The Father Project"". 8 June 2015. Archived from the original on 2020-10-25. Retrieved 2020-04-05.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by