Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dame Sissel Kyrkjebø

My close friends, knowing that I'm the biggest Sissel fan in the world, can't believe I haven't featured any Sissel songs on Musica Obscura, yet. A few days ago, Sissel was officially honored with a knighthood from the king of Norway. So, in honor of the newly-minted Dame Sissel Kyrkjebø, and her upcoming album "Into Paradise," which will be released in the USA and UK in a few days, we'll feature five Sissel songs this week.

Sissel has one of the most widely heard voices in the world, and yet she's one of the most obscure artists. She sang all the wordless, ethereal vocals on the best-selling Titanic soundtrack, yet few people know hers is the other-worldly voice heard on all those emotional moments throughout the film.

Sissel sings an incredibly wide variety of musical styles from folk, pop, classical, jazz, has sung a rock ballad duet with Danish goth rockers Sort Sol and has even had a #1 hit in Europe with Warren G on the rap song "Prince Igor." Yet few people know who she is.

When I introduce new friends to Sissel's music, this is the song I usually play first. It's not entirely representative of Sissel's wide repertoire, but it's one of the most accessible songs. It comes from her 2000 Norwegian album "All Good Things." Unfortunately, when her record label decided to finally release an album of her music in the USA, instead of re-releasing "All Good Things," they re-recorded most of the songs from that album with far inferior karaoke-sounding musical arrangements. So, this is the original version of the song "Weightless."

Other Songs from "All Good Things" to check out: Lær meg å kjenne, Carrier Of A Secret, Better Off Alone, All Good Things, Where The Lost Ones Go, Keep Falling Down

Eg veit i himmerik ei borg
Anytime you listen to Sissel, you need to check out some of her original Norwegian recordings, not just the newer stuff in English. According to Sissel, "Eg veit" was the song James Horner first heard which made him choose her to be the "soul of Titanic" on the Titanic soundtrack. This is a dark, 400-year-old Norwegian hymn, with such stark and gothic tones that you almost think she's singing an incantation to the dark side, not singing a hymn to God. This song is from Sissel's all-time best album "Innerst i sjelen," wherein she sings in 8 different languages (most of them Nordic).

Other Songs from "Innerst i sjelen" to Check Out: Alma Redemtoris, Tidin Rennur, Innerst i sjelen, I skovens dybe stille ro, Bred dina vida vingar, Fire In Your Heart (duet with Placido Domingo)

O Mio Babbino Caro
Sissel recorded her first album clear back in 1986 at the ripe young age of 17. It set sales records in Norway, which she broke when she released her first Christmas album a year later—selling nearly 1 million copies of that album to date (mostly in a country with only 4 million people). No one else has yet broken her sales records in Norway. But by 2001, after 15 years releasing albums, she decided it was time to release a sort of greatest hits album. But she didn't want to just compile all the old songs and put them out. Sissel re-recorded them LIVE in concert with new arrangements and a symphony orchestra. The result was the album "Sissel in Symphony." Some of the songs she released on that album, she had never actually recorded on any previous album, but had sung live throughout her career. One of these previously unrecorded songs, which makes me melt every time I hear it, is Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro."

Other Songs from "Sissel in Symphony" to Check Out: Vestland Vestland, Vitæ Lux, Shenandoah, Eg ser, Kjærlighet, Ave Marie

Can't Go Back (Acoustic)
"Can't Go Back" is a live, acoustic version of a song which appeared on Sissel's USA-debut album, aptly, but not very originally titled "Sissel." When Sissel was in America promoting her album, she appeared on a PBS program called MhZ and this version of the song is from her appearance on that show. "Can't Go Back" was originally titled "Better Off Alone" on her original "All Good Things" album, but that title conflicted with a popular techno dance song of the same name.

Other Songs from "Sissel" Check Out: All Good Things, Shenandoah, Carrier Of A Secret, Molde Canticle

Where The Lost Ones Go
This is an amazingly beautiful duet with fellow Norwegian popstar Espen Lind—also written by Lind. Many predicted this song would vault Sissel to international stardom and help revive Lind's international career. Probably due to poor marketing by their record label, this never happened. It did, however, win the inaugural Online Song Contest, a sort of online version of the Eurovision Song Contest held every year across Europe.

Other Songs written by Espen Lind and Sung by Sissel to Check Out: Walkin' Thru Fire


At 07 February, 2006 16:52, Nick said...

Sissel sure is quite a find, and obscure too--I seem to have heard parts of 'Where the Lost...' somewhere, but never heard of her before. I can foresee her backcatalog being somewhat uneven but I'm definitely going to have to check it out. Thanks!

At 13 February, 2006 07:18, Teresa said...

Hrm...never heard of Sissel, but I will have to check her out on iTunes...thanks for stopping by the DA ARt Blog! T


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